The Followers of Christ teach that only certain people have the authority to baptize. Only a preacher – an apostle on par with the Apostle Paul – can perform a legitimate baptism. Followers believe that salvation can be obtained only through baptism by an Apostle.
Since their apostle – Walter White – has been dead since 1969, baptism is no longer possible. The children and grandchildren of the baptized are told they are born holy – and may have an opportunity to be baptized on Judgment Day. Outsiders – “worldy people” – cannot be saved. What happened to the Great Commission? What happened to the Good News? I never heard of these things until long after I left.
Followers take Jesus' statement to Nicodemus in John 3:5: “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit” to mean that you must be baptized with water to be saved. While the understanding of most Christians and Biblical scholars is that being “born of water” happens to us at birth, and being born of the Spirit happens when we accept the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
In today's message, Jerry Patton addresses the question of who can baptize.
* * * * *
In my last post, I mentioned how baptism is not owned by anyone. This is true, however, through some church doctrines and traditions, access to baptism has been strictly controlled and sadly - even prohibited.
In my studies, I have never read anything that grants a particular type of disciple an exclusive authority to baptize. In the New Testament we hear Paul talk about deacons and elders (also known as shepherds or bishops) who hold an office of service within a church and their overall charge is to serve the flock. We also hear Paul talk about the Apostles and the work they engaged in, which in his case, was to be a herald of the gospel to the gentiles (the pagan world). Not even Paul as an Apostle claimed exclusive authority to baptize. In I Corinthians, he counsels the disciples at Corinth about unity within the body of Christ:
My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 1 Corinthians 1:10-17
Paul says that he did not baptize anyone other than Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas. It doesn’t stipulate who baptized the others. If it were important to stipulate a restriction concerning baptism, he would have stated it somewhere. But even here, in this case, when he’s discussing who baptized who – it isn’t addressed. It isn’t addressed because there was no restriction. There wasn’t then and there isn’t now. Paul spells out in his letter to the Romans and Galatians that we are free in Christ, not to sin, but to serve – for we are no longer under law, but under grace.
The short of it is that any disciple of Christ can baptize a non-believer into the Kingdom as they repent of their sins and confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Any disciple can study with a non-believer and when that non-believer decides and is ready to start their walk with Christ, the disciple can baptize that non-believer. Every disciple has a ministry for they are part of “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession.” I Peter 2:9
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:6-13
The Prophet/Apostle thing cuts both ways. With the authority they were claiming, they had an inside track on being in good with God and if you were a good boy or girl, they would give you access to a real church family and things flourished. While many of them were not even born or very young, these guys were building their own church-lore and ingrained it into their offspring. No one ever thought to ask, "What happens when Walter dies?" So who's gonna feed this monster. God isn't. Who has the guts to stand up and say, "I've been called (as the new church Prophet)"?
As with any group, over a period of time, factions form and they slap anyone down that tries to take over. So they're dying a slow death. They're cut off in so many ways. They flourished because of a Prophet and now they are dying because of him. Their savior is in Carus cemetary rotting, mine is in heaven reigning.
Don’t let any man stand in the way of your relationship with God.