"The Re-Baptism Theory"

E. C. Koltenbah
Evansville, Indiana

Occasionally one encounters this or that of a number of divisive contentions among brethren. One is the re-baptism theory. It is insisted that unless baptism is performed by a member of a church of Christ it is neither valid nor scriptural even if in the name of Christ, by immersion, of a believing penitent, and for the remission of sins. It is contended that the man who does the immersing lives in sin as for instance a member of the digressive Christian Church, or a preacher of some denomination in rare cases who believes what the Bible actually teaches as to the authority, the subject, the act, and the design of baptism, and so practices in spite of the doctrine of his denomination.

To this contention is raised the following questions:

1. Would baptism be scriptural if it be learned that the member or preacher of the church of Christ had been practicing adultery meanwhile? If not, why not?

2. Would it be scriptural if it be established that the member who performs the act was found to be a covetous person, hence an idolater (Col. 3:5)? If not, why not?

3. Would it be scriptural if performed by a member who embraced and practiced institutionalism in any or all of its forms? Is institutionalism different than digression?

4. Do the scriptures insist that the member who performs the act be examined b\: other brethren as to his spiritual state before he may scripturally baptize!

5. If the scriptures do not require absolute sinlessness (perfection) of the member who baptizes to make the act valid, just how much of what sort of sin or sins is he allowed?

6. Who is appointed to judge the case of the one who baptizes in order to make baptism scriptural and how is he appointed?

7. Just what scriptures can be produced to establish re-baptism in the days of the apostles such as is put forth in the modern contention?

8. To elucidate further, can it be established that the Judaizers of the first century never baptized? Can it be established that the contenders that Jesus did not come in the flesh never baptized?

If there is occasion today for re-baptism as of the contention, it follows that there was no less an occasion for rebaptism in the days of the apostles. Is it not extraordinarily significant that in spite of all the departures from the truth of the gospel as set forth in the New Testament as occurring in those very days that there is not a single solitary contention over the validity of baptism in any case or in any controversy?

Some Insuperable Difficulties

1. The contender for the theory of re-baptism must first show that the scriptures absolutely insist that the spiritual state of the man who performs the act of baptism is as essential as the act, the subject, the authority and the design of it!

2. The contender must further show without question the case for baptismal succession from the apostles to the present day in order to validate his case! Any break in the line destroys his contention.

3. The contender must further show that the restoration movement began upon the basis of baptismal succession! If not he is obligated to repudiate the restoration movement and the churches of Christ of today!

4. The contender must establish his own baptism as of an unbroken line from the apostles or else admit its invalidity!

5. The contender must document his case of baptismal succession or admit he begs his question, thus in all consistency, repudiate his own contention!

6. Failure to document baptismal succession obligates its repudiation or else admits the impossibility of the restoration of the apostolic church!

Finally, brethren, does the case for apostolic faith rest upon the spiritual state of those who baptize or upon the revealed truth of God? Take your choice! It is good to be zealous in a scriptural cause, but zeal without knowledge destroys unity, effecting unscriptural division (see Rom. 10:1-2, Hos. 4:6; Gal. 4:17-18).

June 1969