Our Anabaptist and Baptist forefathers were mistreated, imprisoned, tortured and murdered by Catholic and Protestant alike over their commitment to a New Testament ecclesiology centered around believer’s baptism by immersion.
I wonder if we modern day Southern Baptists will follow our forefathers to so radical a conclusion. Today some Baptist pastors are willing to lead their churches to relax, contrary to the New Testament, the necessity of baptism by immersion for membership in the local church.
When such a move is based on misguided reasons such as appeasing paedobaptist friends; fostering church growth by making it easier for some people to join Baptist churches; or allowing Reformed soteriology to blur Baptist ecclesiology; it does not seem likely that we will have the stomach for it.
The indications that some Southern Baptists have lost touch with what it means to be Baptist are evident. Under no circumstances and for no reasons should Southern Baptists abandon their convictions about what the Scriptures teach on the subject of baptism; its meaning or its mode.
The “Prince of Preachers” Charles Haddon Spurgeon knew this all too well:
If I thought it wrong to be a Baptist, I should give it up and become what I believed to be right… if we could find infant baptism in the word of God, we would adopt it. It would help us out of a great difficulty, for it would take away from us that reproach which is attached to us—that we are odd and do not as other people do. But we have looked well through the Bible and cannot find it, and do not believe it is there; nor do we believe that others can find infant baptism in the Scriptures, unless they themselves first put it there.
The same goes for baptism by any other mode than immersion.
The distinctive principle of Baptists is that
“the immersion in water of a believer in Christ is essential to Baptism—so essential that without it there is no baptism.”
J. M. Pendleton, Distinctive Principles of Baptists (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1882), 158.