Cled E. Wallace
Dr. Charles R. Shirar, Baptist pastor, protests against the practice which seems to be more or less common among Baptists of “deferring baptism for several years.” Dr. Shirar had this and some more to say in the Baptist and Reflector.
We are commanded to baptize disciples. We are not to be afraid of being mixed with some who believe in baptismal regeneration by insisting upon compliance with this command. All who believe ought to be baptized as soon as practical thereafter, and in the most orderly fashion as possible, in the right way, and for the proper purpose. There are being too many converts among the children who defer baptism until later, and in a great many cases this means never. At least deferring baptism for several years will not add anything to their spiritual life. The false assumption is that if they can hold out for a year or two, then they can keep themselves saved forever thereafter, which violates every New Testament principle and personal experience.
We heartily agree that “all who believe ought to be baptized as soon as practical thereafter and in the most orderly fashion as possible, in the right way, and for the proper purpose.” The right way for a believer to be baptized is to submit to immersion as the New Testament clearly teaches. “The proper purpose” of baptism as stated in the New Testament makes an unnecessary deferment of obedience to the divine command a very serious matter, more serious in fact than Dr. Shirar, or any other orthodox Baptist will admit it is. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). “And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins.” (Acts 2:38). “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). “Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” (Rom. 6:3).
“The proper purpose” of baptism could hardly be more clearly stated than in this inspired language. The believer who defers his baptism, according to these texts, defers the important business of being saved, receiving the remission of his sins, and entering into Christ and into His death. Surely, then “all who believe ought to be baptized as soon as practical thereafter.” He is justified in going to great length to make it “practical.” In the case of the jailor Paul and Silas must have advised against any deferment whatever for “he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes; and was baptized he and all his immediately.” The most “practical” time for the believer to attend to such an important matter is “immediately.”
It is expected that when a Baptist preacher, whether a hillbilly or a doctor, says very much about baptism, he will get “afraid of being mixed with some who believe in baptismal regeneration.” According to a Baptist, there is no way to accept baptism as a condition of pardon without believing in “baptismal regeneration.” It would be as logical for them to sneer at Naaman for taking the water cure for his leprosy because God commanded him to dip seven times in the Jordan that he might be healed. God promises a believer pardon when he is baptized and such obedience is an act of faith and a test of faith. Personally, I’m not much “afraid of” Baptist preachers “being mixed with some who believe” what the New Testament teaches on the design of baptism, for my observation leads me to believe that they are stubbornly set against it. However, that doesn’t change what the New Testament says about it.
This Baptist doctor thinks it is a “false assumption” that those who defer their baptism “can hold-out for a year or two, then they can keep themselves saved forever thereafter.” He thinks this “violates every New Testament principle and personal experience.” Maybe so, but it is no violation of Baptist doctrine. According to Baptists a believer is saved before he is baptized and stays saved whether or not he is ever baptized. He doesn’t need to “hold out for a year or two” and doesn’t need to keep himself saved. After he once gets it, he couldn’t turn it loose if he wanted to and couldn’t keep from being “saved forever thereafter” even if he tried to. The Baptist Standard recently carried quite an editorial designed to disprove the charge that Baptists are “narrow.” Be that as it may they appear to me to be a bit queer.