Full Text for The Mode of Baptism (Text)

(!Tnurnr~iu (UQtnlnguul flnut41y Continuing LEHRE UND VVEHRE MAGAZIN FUER Ev.-LUTH. HOMILETIK THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY-THEOLOGICAL MONTHLY Vol. X August, 1939 No.8 CONTENTS Page The Mode of Baptism. Walter A. Baepler _______________________________ ____________ 561 Holy Scripture or Christ? Th_ Engeldcr __ __ __ _ _____ ___________________________ 571 The False Arguments for the Modern Theory of Open Questions Walther-Guebert_____________________________________ __ ____ 587 Kleine Prophetenstudien. L_ Fuerbringer ________ ________________________ 595 Festival Address at Academic Service. Theo. Buenger _______ _____ 605 Predigtentwuerfe fuer die Evangelien der Thomasius- Perikopenreihe __________________________________________________________ 614 Miscellanea _______________________________________________________ 622 Theological Observer. - Kirchlich -Zeitgeschichtliches ________ 625 Book Review. - Literatur ________________________________________________ 634 lCIn Predlger mUll! ntcht aDem wei- dell, also dus er die Schafe unter- weise. wle de rechte Cbrlsten IOllen Ieln. IIOndem auch daneben den Woel- ten weh"", dull de die Schafe n1cht ~lten und mit fal8cher Lehre ver- tuebren und Irrtum elntuebren. LutheT. Ell tat teln Dlng. daI cUe Leute mehr be! der Klrche behae1t denn die gute PrecU&t. - Apologte. An. 14. If the trumpet £lve an uneertaln sound who IIhall prepare hlmHU to the baWe? -1 eM. 14. t. Published for the BY. Luth. S)'DOd of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States CONCORDIA PlJBUSBING BOUSE, St. Louis, Mo. ARCH IV Concordia Theological Monthly Vol. X AUGUST, 1939 No.8 The Mode of Baptism A striking diversity exists in the Christian Church with ref- erence to the mode of administering the rite of Baptism. Broadly speaking, the Eastern Church baptizes by immersion, the Western Church by pouring or sprinkling. In the Greek Orthodox Church baptism of infants or adults is by trine immersion, "which is most essential in the administration of Baptism," although in case of extreme weakness or morlal danger a child may be baptized by affusion. 1) Among the other Oriental communions the manner of applying water varies. The Nestorians, for example, stand the candidate erect in water reaching to his neck and dip the head three times. The Armenians first immerse the child and then thrice pour a handful of water on its head. How- ever, throughout the Oriental churches the basic thought of cover- ing the entire body or parts of the body with water persists in virtually all rituals, so that we may speak of immersion as the distinctive Eastern mode of baptizing.2 ) The Western Church, if we ignore for the moment the Baptists and other immersionists, considers the manner in which water is applied in the rite of Baptism an adiaphoron. The major groups employ affusion or sprinkling but do not condemn the practise of immersion. In fact, the Roman Catholic ritual provides for im- mersion as well as for affusion. A similar survival appears in the Anglican Prayer-book. The Prayer-book of the Protestant Epis- copal Church parallels the two modes, the rubric reading: "And thus, naming it (the child) after them, he shall dip it in water discreetly or else pour water upon it, saying," etc. The Presbyterian Church ruled out immersion in 1644 but, like the Methodists, rec- ognizes the baptism of those immersed. The Lutheran Church has 1) Klotsche, Christian Symbolics, 45. 2) For detailed information cf. Warfield, Studies in Theology, 345. 36 562 The Mode of Baptism no formularies with provisions for immersion, and while it does not consider a baptism by immersion invalid, it would hardly lend itself to this mode of baptizing because of confessional and other reasons.3 ) The Baptists and the other groups insisting upon immersion 4) assert that such practise is essential to the validity of Baptism. They appeal in support of their position to the significance of the Greek word ~aJt"t(sElV and its Latin equivalents; to the circumstances in which the baptisms of the New Testament were administered; to the significance of the rite as a burial with Christ; and to the concessions of those who, while practically rejecting immersion, admit that it was practised by the apostles and the early churches.5) These groups call immersion the "New Testament mode of baptism" and until recently 6) were unanimous in affirming that immersion of the believer is essential to real Christian baptism. It is the purpose of this article to show that such a position has no Scriptural founda- tion and that an objective study of the Scriptures and of the literary and archeological evidence leads to the conclusion that the mode of baptism is an adiaphoron. When Christ instituted Baptism, He did not specify any par- ticular mode to be used. The word which He employed to desig- nate the Baptism of the New Testament was not a new word which He coined for this specific purpose, but one which was in common use and whose meaning can, therefore, be determined. BaJt"tlsELv had heen long in use among the Jews to express religious washings of all kinds. Thus Luke records that the Pharisee marveled that Jesus had not first washed (E~!J.Jt"tiGll1J) before dinner (Luke 11: 38); and Mark speaks of the washings (~aJt"tLGrWU,) by the Jews of cups and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables, Mark 7: 4. These religious washings are called by the writer to the Hebrews l\ul!poQoL ~!J.Jt"tLGJ.Loi (Heb.9:10) and refer to the purifications (xallaQLGrwi) of the Old Testament. They formed a part of the Ceremonial Law and in- cluded such items as the purifying of the Levites, the priests, per- sons and things defiled, lepers, sacred objects, etc. While the ~!J.Jt·MJ.Loi of the Old Testament had nothing to do with the Baptism of the New Testament, the Septuagint designates the performing of one of the prescribed ceremonial ablutions as ~!J.Jt"tiSELV, Ecclus. 34: 25, * and the manner in which these ~aJt"tLG[toi were performed indicates the meaning which the Jews associated 3) Fritz, Pastoral Theology, 104; Stump, The Christian Faith, 333. 4) The immersionist groups are listed in Popular Symbolics, 427. 5) Johnson's Universal Cyclopaedia, sub Baptists. 6) McNutt, Polity and Practise in Baptist Churches, 127. * The Septuagint is quoted according to the Stuttgart edition of A. Rahlfs. The Mode of Baptism 563 with the word [:\am(~ELv and its derivatives. Thus we read of the cleansing of the Levites, Num. 8: 6,7: "Take the Levites from among the children of Israel and cleanse them. And this shalt thou do unto them to cleanse them: sprinkle the water of expiation on them." Of the purifying of the priests Ex. 29: 4,21, states: "And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the Tabernacle of the congregation and shalt wash them with water. And thou shalt take of the blood that is upon the altar and of the anointing oil and sprinkle it upon Aaron and upon his gar- ments." The Mosaic regulations regarding persons and things defiled specified: "Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead and purifieth not himself, defileth the Tabernacle of the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel; because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be un- clean; his uncleanness is yet upon him," Num. 19: 13. Of the un- clean tent and vessels and persons we are told, Num. 19: 18, 19: "And a clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water and sprinkle it upon the tent and upon all the vessels and upon the persons that were there and upon him that touched a bone or one slain or one dead or a grave. And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day; and on the seventh day he shall purify himself and wash his clothes and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even." With reference to the lepers we read, Lev. 14:7-9: "And he [the priest] shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean." And as to the cleansing of sacred objects we note, Lev. 16: 14-19, that the mercy- seat and the altar were to be purified by the sprinkling of blood on them and before them. These were some of the Ihuq>oQOL f:\mt'tLcrJ10L mentioned Heb. 9: 10. They are called "divers washings" not only because they referred to divers objects, but also because they were performed in various ways. God Himself prescribed the mode to be used, and, to say the least, it is significant that the usual mode was not immersion but sprinkling. The f:\amLcrJ10L of the Old Testament did not limit the meaning of [:\Ult'tLcr!-LOO:; to a specific mode of applying water. Neither does the word f:\a.i't'tL~ELV vi vocis. Balt'tL~ELV and its root word [:\M'tEIN are not modal verbs. They are factitive verbs and express the fact of wetting without implying or specifying the mode to be employed. This is true of f:\uJt'tELV as well as of f:\aJt'tL~ELV. Dan. 4: 33 we read: "The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar; and he was driven from men and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven." The Septuagint has it: %ui. MO 'tYjo:; llQocrou 'tou oUQavou 'to crooJ1a au'tou sf:\uq>'ll' Here f:\M'tELV evidently cannot mean to dip or immerse. It states merely the fact 564 The Mode of Baptism that Nebuchadnezzar's body was wet. BaJt1;L~ELV is used in a similar manner in the Septuagint. Naeman was told by Elisha, 2 Kings 5:10: "Go and wash in Jordan seven times," etc. From v.14 we learn xo.t Xo.TE~1'] N aL~o.v xo.t E~aJt'tLOo.TO EV T0 IOQllo.v'[] x. T. A. Did Naeman immerse himself? He was told to wash (AOUOaL, v. 10), and he obeyed that direction. If nothing else, ~aJt'tL~ELV here is used as synonymous with AOUELV, which is a generic term, signifying to wash without reference to mode. It is also significant that Jerome translates this passage "Descendit et lavit in Iordane," using for E~aJt'tLOo.TO lavit, again a generic term, meaning to wash. Of Judith we are told, Judith 12: 7: xul E;E,WQEUETO Xo.Ta. vux'to. cL£" TnV cpuQo.yyo. BaLTUAOUo. xo.t E{3o.n'tL~ETo EV 'ttl no.QE~~OAtl Ent Tii£" n1']Yii£" TOU Ul\o.'tO£". Here we have a baptism which the language employed and the attending circumstances prove not to have been an immersion. Judith "baptized" or washed herself not into or in but at CEnt) a spring. She was in the military camp of Holophernes, where regard to decency would forbid her immersing herself. Finally we read Ecclus. 34: 25: {3o.nTL~O~EVO£" MO VEXQOU xo.l nUALv &nTo~Evo~ mhou, TL WCPEA1']OEV EV TiQ AOUTQiQ o.UTOU; The reference here is to Num.19: 20 ff., where the law relative to the ceremonial cleansing from touching the dead is recorded. The Mosaic regulations specified sprinkling as the most important feature of this rite of purification, so that in this passage ~o.n'tL~ELv virtually means sprinkling. We note again, as in 2 Kings 5: 10,14, that {3o.mL~ELV and AOUTQOV are synonymous in thought. Turning to the New Testament, we find ~aJtTL~ELV and its deriva- tives ~o.nTLO~O£", {3umLo~o., ~aJt'tLO'tl]£" used 122 times, and in every instance they refer to a ritual or religious act. Never do these words vi vocis imply a washing by immersion. On the contrary, in a number of passages the conception of immersion is excluded. Thus Mark 7: 4: "And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be which they have received to hold, as the washings" (~aJtTLO!-LOU£") "of cups, brazen vessels, and of tables" (xALviiiv, couches). For these cere- monial washings (xa.fro.QLO~OL) the Jews had jars of water, John 2: 6. The cups and pots and brazen vessels might have been immersed, though there are no cogent reasons to assume that this was done; but to suppose that the tables, rather couches, were immersed in water is unreasonable and certainly out of question. Again, the Pharisee, Luke 11: 38, marveled that Jesus did not wash (E~aJtTLOfr1']) before eating. The parallel passage is found Matt. 15: 2, where instead of {3o.n'tL~ELv, VLn'tOV'taL Ta.£" XELQU£" is used as a synonym. And in Mark 7:4, where some versions have EUV ~n ~o.mLoillv'tm, the read- ing Ea.V ~n Qo.V'tLOillV'taL also is found. The implications of these passages are that the ceremonial ablutions before meals were performed not The Mode of Baptism 565 by immersion but by pouring or sprinkling and that [3UJt'd~EL'V does not and cannot mean immersion and immersion only. 1 Cor. 10: 2 Paul writes: "All" (the fathers) "were baptized (E[3um;[Ou.v,;o) unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea." Comments William M. Taylor: "This first recorded baptism, so far as appears, was not immersion. Sprinkled the tribes might be, as the clouds poured down water or the spray was dashed upon them by the fury of the wind; but their baptism in the sea was contemporaneous with their 'walking upon dry land in the midst of it.' It is a very small matter; but when esteemed brethren assure us that the word 'baptize' always and everywhere means immerse, it becomes im- portant to remark that in the very earliest case in reference to which the term is applied, it very evidently can have no such significance. There was an immersion here, indeed, but it was that of the Egyptians; and no one will be very eager to follow their example." 7) Thus the use of f3C1.Jt';[~EL'V in the Septuagint and in the New Testament clearly shows that it is not a modal verb and that the Jews did not associate with this word a specific method of applying water. Hence, the statement that f3um,[~ELv signifies immersion, and immersion only, and thereby establishes immersion as the New Testament mode of baptism is without Scriptural foundation, The New Testament records of the baptisms by John the Baptist, the apostles, Philip, and Ananias do not offer sufficient data to enable us to ascertain with absolute certainty how these baptisms were administered. Yet these records do contain enough hints and implications for us to infer how several of the recorded baptisms were not performed, John told the multitude, Luke 3: 16: "I indeed baptize you with water, but One mightier than I cometh ... ; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." The fulfilment of these words occurred on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2: 17, 18. This baptism with the Spirit and with fire was performed not by immersion but by an outpouring (Et;EXEev, Acts 2: 33) of the Spirit and by cloven tongues like as of fire that sat upon each of them, The disciples were not carried or plunged into the Spirit and into the fire, but the Spirit and the fire came to them. That this Pentecostal baptism really was the baptism predicted by John is explicitly stated by Peter, Acts 2: 33: "There- fore, being by the right hand of God exalted and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He [Jesus] hath shed forth (Et;f;.::EEV, cf. vv. 17, 18) this which ye now see and hear:' Since, therefore, we find neither in the words of Peter nor in the occurrences on Pentecost anything that would even faintly suggest 7) Taylor, Moses the Lawgiver, 119. 566 The Mode of Baptism immersion, we conclude that, when John spoke of baptism with the Holy Ghost and with fire, the term baptism did not signify to him immersion but rather an outpouring. And is it not reasonable to assume that a similar mode of applying water, viz., of pouring, would suggest itself to John when he baptized? This assumption is confirmed by the attending circumstances of his baptisms. If we keep in mind the short duration of his ministry and the multitudes that came to him to be baptized (Matt. 3: 5), it becomes apparent that it would have been a physical impossibility for John to im- merse all these people. Nor does the fact that John baptized UIlO:tL and £'V Ma'n demand a baptism by immersion, for we have here the instrumental use of the dative and of €V, indicating what John used when he baptized. Regarding John's baptism the sainted Dr. A. L. Graebner wrote: "The gospels say John baptized EV 'tiP 'IoQIlu.'V'[], Ill.\; 'to'V 'IoQIlu.v'Ij'V, {Jlla'tL, €V {Jlla'tL. All these expressions do not necessitate the assumption of immersion. The number of applicants being very great (Matt. 3: 5) and water being plentiful (John 3: 23), the most decorous, expeditious, and cleanly way of administering the sacred rite may have been this, that John stood in the river, EV 1:0 , IOQM.vtl , the people, one by one, came near him, also in the river, and the Baptist, lifting water from the river, poured it upon the people before him, so that the water with which he baptized (ul\a1:L, or €V Ul\cm) would run back again into the river, d\; 'tov 'IoQIlu.v11V." 8) Hence, while we cannot definitely establish the mode of John's baptism, the records contain enough informa- tion to make pouring or sprinkling more than likely. The account of the other baptisms of the New Testament leads to the same conclusion. On the day of Pentecost three thousand were baptized. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls," Acts 2:41. We ask, On which day were these people "added unto them?" The record replies EV -en lj!,LllQQ. EXELVtl, on that day on which they were baptized. To say, as some exegetes do, e. g., Zahn, that these baptisms were performed at a later time, transgresses the principles of true interpretation. They received the Word, were baptized, and were added to the Church the same day. Indeed, it was through Baptism that they became members of the Church.9 ) That is what the text states. How were they baptized? Three thousand by immersion? Such a task would have surpassed the physical strength of the apostles. Besides, where would they have found enough water for this purpose? There are no rivers or streams in Jerusalem, and to suggest the use of public pools disregards the fact that this mass 8) Theol. Quart., V: 5. 9) Stoeckhardt, Roemerbriej, 285. The Mode of Baptism 567 baptism took place only fifty days after the Jews of Jerusalem had put Jesus to death. We do not know how these three thousand were baptized, but the circumstances warrant the assumption that these baptisms were not administered by immersion. Again, Philip baptized the eunuch of Ethiopia, who was traveling through a desert country (Acts 8:26), where even today water is found in sparing quantities. (The text has 1:L {JlIooQ.) Both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and both came up out of the water, Xa.L xa.1:i~ll<1a.'V u[tCPU1:EQOL do; 1:0 {JlIooQ ••••