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Bible Answers for Bible Questions

James P. Needham
Winter Park, Florida

Baptism: Who Can Perform It? What Should Be Said?

"Can an alien, an apostate, or a woman scripturally baptize one into the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, if they use the Bible words?"


1. Concerning the qualifications of the baptizer:

The scripturalness of baptism does not depend upon the SEX, or the spiritual condition of the baptizer, but upon the knowledge and understanding of the one being baptized.

The scriptures are absolutely silent concerning the qualifications of the baptizer. Since God gives no qualifications for this person, then we should not (1 Pet.4:11) However, much is said of the one being baptized. He must have heard the gospel (Jn. 6:44-46; 17). He must be a believer of the gospel (Rom. 10:10, 17; Mk. 16:16). He must have repented of his sins (Lk. 13:3:30). He must have confessed Christ with his mouth (Rom. 10:10; Mt. 10:32). Those who have not performed these acts are not scripturally qualified subjects of baptism.

These qualifications of those to be baptized are clear, simple and easy to find in the scriptures, but no passage of scripture gives any information on the qualifications of the baptizer.

While the New Testament does not indicate that anyone other than MALE Christians did the baptizing, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to indisputably prove that others did not, or cannot.

When Alexander Campbell realized that he had not been baptized, he persuaded a Baptist preacher to immerse him with the clear understanding that it was contrary to Baptist practice. Was Campbell's baptism scriptural?

To make valid baptism depend upon the qualifications of the baptizer would necessitate our establishing an unbroken chain of baptismal succession performed by Christians all the way back to the apostles. It would mean that each Christian must have been baptized by a Christian who was baptized by a Christian who in turn was baptized by a Christian, etc. etc., back through the centuries of religious error and historical records that are either inaccurate or non-existent. Scriptural baptism would thus be dependent upon fallible human records.

2. Concerning the words to be said by the baptizer:

The question mentions "using the Bible words" at baptism. What are they? So far as we know, NOTHING was said when people were baptized in the New Testament, and there is certainly no scriptural requirement that anything be said now. The validity of baptism does not depend upon what is SAID, but upon what is DONE. It is possible to baptize a person into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit {Mt. 28:18-20), for the remission of sins {Acts 2:38), and into Christ (Gal. 3:17), without saying that this is what is being done. While it is RIGHT and GOOD to say what is being done that all may understand it, there is no requirement that it be said.


This is not an encouragement for anyone to rush out and persuade an alien, apostate or female to immerse him without saying what is being done. Indeed not! The circumstance would be extreme and rare that would necessitate that! The point is, that we should be very careful not to take a position we cannot scripturally substantiate. Let us "speak as the oracles of God" (1 Pet. 4:11).

TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV: 7, pp. 13-14

December 18, 1969




The Restoration of Unity Among Divided Brethren

James W. Adams, Nacogdoches, Texas 75961

"I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, you to Walk worthily of the Calling wherewith ye were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body,

James W. Adams and one Spirit, even as also ye were one hope of your calling; one Lord, faith, one baptism, one God and Father who is over ali, and through all, and in (Eph. 4:1-6.)

The Fact of Division.

That there is widespread spiritual and among members of professed of Christ is not a debatable it is a demonstrable reality. unity is Divinely required, urgently and conditionally attainable, few deny. The problem lies in the con-of attainment. The solution to the will be found in the answer to the fi'hat are these conditions and how to be implemented so as to produce idesired result? In these areas, there are divergent views held by equally capable brethren on both. sides of issues concerning congregational and haman institutions. There widely divergent views within the of each of these groups of brethren.

hopeless. As always in such matters, there have been idealistic expressions from optimistic visionaries and jaundiced comments from pessimistic fatalists. Added to this, there has more recently been an effort on the





"Rising Expectations"

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the past two years, certain things occured which have produced "rising among brethren generally on of current problems that prospects a restoration o! unityare not entirely

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part of one journal circulated among "conservative" brethren to capitalize on the meager and debatable results of a fe,~ private, brotherly discussions between so called "conservative" and "liberal" brethrer (Buchanan Dam, Arlingwn, and Leake) Texas) by initiating something called a "peace offensive" and more recently a "reasoning offensive." Since this writer was prominently involved in initiating and participating in the meetings in question, it seems advisable, even imperative, that he have something to say about the turn this matter has taken.

Our Text

The text of Scripture with which this article begins is probably the most pertinent "unity" text in the New Testament. It contains a statement of the seven essential elements of "the unity of the Spirit." They are preceded in the text by a delineation of prerequisites that are indispensable to the establishment and maintenance of that unity. We should like to make this text the basis of our study of the subject.

Unity Prerequisites

(1) A manner of llfe on the part of Christians with the high and holy character of their calling. Paul says "I beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called 7 7 ." (Vs. 1.) This condition might be considered as embracing all the others, and they might be considered as a definition of what constitutes such consistent behavior. However, the Christian's calling is a "holy calling" (2 Tim. 1:9} and the Christian a "sanctified person (1 Cor. 1:1, 2). A sanctified person is one who has been set apart to holy uses or purposes. Therefore, in walking worthily, a Christian must live a holy life.

Mutual holiness of conduct is an absolutely essential prerequisite to a restoration of unity between divided brethren. Unity in sinful living would be abhorrent to Jehovah. Doctrinal orthodoxy and unity therein apart from holiness would be Pharisaical and potentially blasphemous. The Hebrew writer unites peace with holiness and warns, "Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."


(Heb. 12:14.) It is probably in order to remark also that leadership in any effort toward a restoration of unity among divided brethren must come from sources impeccably holy--brethren of known integrity and unblemished reputation.

(2) Humility. Paul says, "With all lowliness..." (Vs. 2). Probably the attribute of human character most detrimental tO the establishment and maintenance of the "unity of the Spirit" is human pride. It is said that the Greeks of our Lord's time had no word in the language for humility which did not have ignoble connotations. Their words connoted a "slavish, mean" disposition. Humility as a virtue required the coining of a word by the New Testament writers. (See: William Barclay, Ga/at/ans and Ephesians, pp 159, 160.)

A "crucifying of sell"--renunciation of vested interests--is an indispensable prerequisite to a restoration of unity among divided brethren. Too often, loss of face, place, position, and popularity impede such restoration. To our Lord, the humility involved in self-renunciation for His sake was a noble attribute, in fact, the royal road to "greatness" in His kingdom. (Matt. 20: 25. 27.) Mx. Barclay states the matter beautifully, when he says, "Christian humility is based on the sight of se!f, the vision of Christ, and the realization of God." He meant by "sight of self" a recognition of our sinfulness, by ~'vision of Christ" an acute awareness of His perfection as our example, and by "realization of God" an honest facing of the fact of our utter dependence upon (}od and his grace for our salvation. (Ibid. p. 161.) A restoration of unity among persons characterized by such humility becomes immeasurably easier to effect.

(3) "Meekness." Paul says, "With all lowliness and meekness..." (Vs. 2.) We often equate meekness with humility. New Testament "meekness" is related to humility as effect is related to cause. The Greek term "pratts" from which it is derived was used in our Lord's time to describe the temper of an animal broken to harness--an ox broken to the yoke. The meek man is one broken to God's harness, one not motivated by the carnal mind but uniformly controlled and directed by "the mind of the Spirit." (Rom. (116)



would be extreme and rare that would necessitate that! The point is, that we should be very careful not to take a position we cannot scripturally substantiate. Let us "speak as the oracles of God" (1 Pet. 4:11).






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