Paedobaptist Testimonies to Immersion

Paedobaptist Testimonies to Immersion

The historic practice of the Christian church is that baptism is to be carried out by immersion in water. This is because the word baptism comes from the Greek word baptisma which describes the dipping of an object in liquid. This is recognized by all secular historians and Greek scholars. That baptism was practiced by immersion also is confirmed by the Jewish roots of baptism. The practice of baptizing by sprinkling or pouring water arose over time for pragmatic reasons in the Western Church while the Eastern Church which knew Greek continued to practice baptism by immersion. The following quotations come from those who believed in infant baptism and practiced baptism by sprinkling yet nevertheless recognized that immersion was the ancient and biblical mode of baptism. Many more quotations could be added to this list:

Martin Luther

“The name baptism is Greek; in Latin it can be rendered immersion, when we immerse anything in water, that it may be all covered with water. And although that custom has now grown out of use . . . yet they ought to be entirely immersed, and immediately drawn out. For this the etymology of the name seems to demand” (On the Sacrament of Baptism; Opera Lutheri, 1:319).

Philip Melanchthon

“Baptism is immersion in water, which is performed with the accompanying benediction of admiration . . . Plunging signifies ablution from sin and immersion into the death of Christ” (Catechesis De Sacramentis; Opera Omnia, 1:25).

Ulrich Zwingli

“When ye were immersed into the water of baptism, ye were ingrafted into the death of Christ; that is, the immersion of your body into water was a sign that ye ought to be ingrafted into Christ” (Annotations on the Epistle to the Romans on Romans 6:3; Opera Omnia, 4:420).

John Calvin

“The very word baptize, however, signifies to immerse; and it is certain that immersion was the practice of the ancient church” (Institutues of the Christian Religion, Book 4, Chapter 15, Section 19).

Theodore Beza

“Christ commanded us to be baptized, by which word it is certain immersion is signified” (Second Letter to Tilium).

Girolamo Zanchius

“Baptism is a Greek word, and signifies two things; first, and properly, immersion in water: for the proper signification of Baptizo, is to immerse, to plunge under, to overwhelm in water” (Works 6:217).

William Tyndale

“The plunging into the water signifieth that we die, and are buried with Christ, as concerning the old life of sin which is Adam. And the pulling out again, signifieth that we rise again with Christ in a new life full of the Holy Ghost, which shall teach us and guide us and work the will of God in us, as thou seest” (Obedience of a Christian Man, 1571 edition, 143).

Richard Baxter

“We grant that Baptism then was by wash­ing the whole Body: And did not the differences of our cold country as to that hot one, teach us to remem­ber (I will have mercy and not sacrifice) it should be so here” (Paraphrase of the New Testament on Matthew 3:6).

Herman Witsius

“It is certain, that both John and the disciples of Christ ordinarily used dipping; whose example was followed by the ancient church, as Vossius, Disput. 1. de baptismo, Thes. 6, and Hoornbeck de baptismo Veterum, sect. iv. have shown from many testimonies both of the Greeks and Latins. 2dly, It cannot be denied, but the native signification of the words, baptein and baptizein, is to plunge or dip” (The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man, 3:390).

Francis Turretin

“As in former times the persons to be baptized were immersed in the water, continued under the water, and emerged out of it; Matt. 3:16. Acts 8:38; so the old man died in them and was buried, and the new man arose” (Disp. de Bap. Nubis and Mans, § 24. Inst. Theol., tom. 3, Loc. 19, Quaes. 11, § 14).

Thomas Chalmers

“The original meaning of the word baptism is immersion” (Lectures on Romans on Romans 6).

John Wesley

“Mary Welsh, aged eleven days, was baptized according to the custom of the first church, and the rule of the Church of England, by immersion. The child was ill then, but recovered from that hour” (Extract of Mr. John Wesley’s Journal, from his embarking for Georgia, 10).

Buried with him,’ alluded to the ancient manner of baptizing by immersion.” (Wesley’s Notes on Romans 6:4).

Philip Schaff

“Immersion and not sprinkling was unquestionably the original normal form of baptism. This is shown by the meaning of the Greek word and the analogy of the baptism of John” (History of the Apostolic Church, 2:256).

James Gibbons

“For several centuries after the establishment of Christianity baptism was usually conferred by immersion; but since the 12th century the practice of baptism by infusion has prevailed in the Catholic church, as this manner is attained with less inconvenience than by immersion” (Faith of Our Fathers, 317).

William Cave

“The action having proceeded thus far, the party to be baptized was wholly immerged, or put under water, which was the almost constant and universal custom of those times, whereby they did more notably and significantly express the three great ends and effects of baptism. For, as in immersion there are, in a manner, three several acts, the putting the person into water, his abiding there for a little time, and his rising up again, so by these were represented Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection; and, in conformity thereunto, our dying unto sin, the destruction of its power, and our resurrection to a new course of life. By the person’s being put into water was lively represented the putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, and being washed from the filth and pollution of them; by his abode under it, which was a kind of burial unto water, his entering into a state of death or mortification, like as Christ remained for some time under the state or power of death” (Primitive Christianity, 220).

William Wall

“Their (the primitive Christians) general and ordinary way was to baptize by immersion, or dipping the person, whether it were an infant, or grown man or woman, into the water. This is so plain and clear by an infinite number of passages, that as one can not but pity the weak endeavors of such Pedobaptists as would maintain the negative of it, so also we ought to disown and show a dislike of the profane scoffs which some people give to the English Antipedobaptists, merely for their use of dipping. It was, in all probability, the way by which our blessed Savior, and for certain was the most usual and ordinary way by which the ancient Christians did receive their baptism. Tis a great want of prudence, as well as of honesty, to refuse to grant to an adversary what is certainly true, and may be proved so. It creates a jealousy of all the rest that one says. As for sprinkling, I say, as Mr. Blake, at its first coming up in England, ‘Let them defend it who use it.’ They (who are inclined to Presbyterianism) are hardly prevailed on to leave off that scandalous custom of having their children, though never so well, baptized out of a basin, or porringer, in a bed-chamber, hardly persuaded to bring them to church, much further from having them dipped, though never so able to bear it” (History of Infant Baptism, part 2, chapter 2).

“In the case of sickness, weakness, haste, want of quantity of water, or such like extraordinary occasions, baptism by affusion of water on the face, was by the ancients, counted sufficient baptism. France seems to have been the first country in the world where baptism, by affusion, was used ordinarily to persons in health, and in the public way of administering it. There has been some synods, in some dioceses of France, that had spoken of affusion, without mentioning immersion at all, that being the common practice; but for an office or liturgy of any church, this is, (Referring to Calvin’s ‘Form of administering the Sacraments’) I believe, the first in the world that prescribes affusion absolutely; and for sprinkling, properly called, it seems it was, at 1645, just then beginning, and used by very few. It must have begun in the disorderly times after 1641. But then came The Directory, which says: ‘Baptism is to be administered, not in private places, or privately, but in the place of public worship, and in the face of the congregation,’ and so on. ‘And not in the places where fonts, in the time of Popery, were unfitly and superstitiously placed.’ So they reformed the font into a basin. This learned assembly could not remember that fonts to baptize in had been always used by the primitive Christians, long before the beginning of Popery, and ever since churches were built; but that sprinkling, for the common use of baptizing, was really introduced (in France first, and then in the other Popish countries) in times of Popery; and that accordingly, all those countries in which the usurped power of the Pope is, or has formerly been, owned, have left off dipping of children in the font; but that all other countries in the world, which had never regarded his authority, do still use it; and that basins, except in case of necessity, were never used by Papists, or any other Christians whatsoever, till by themselves. What has been said of this custom of pouring or sprinkling water in the ordinary use of baptism, is to be understood only in reference to these western parts of Europe, for it is used ordinarily nowhere else” (History of Infant Baptism, part 2, chapter 9).


Is Baptism for the Church Today?

Is Baptism for the Church Today?

Believe it or not, there are some professing Christians who do not believe that the practice of baptism is for the church today. One such organization is the ironically named Berean Bible Society named after the noble Bereans of Acts 17:11. Another group who do not practice baptism are the Quakers. When I first read about the belief that baptism is not for the church today, I thought it was a joke that would make a good article for Christian satire. No one could actually believe this, right? But I was wrong. This organization claims that baptism is no different from Jewish practices like circumcision which were only intended for Israel. They make the incredible claim that “there is not one verse of Scripture instructing one member of the Body of Christ to baptize with water another person who is already a member of that Body.”

According to them, the practice of baptism as instituted by Jesus Christ is “a bad testimony,” “a confession of a lack of appreciation of the finished work of Christ,” that baptism “betrays a poor understanding of the heavenly character and position of the Church of this age,” and is an expression of “presumption and religious pride.” Those who disagree with their position are described as “some well-meaning brethren,” as if the belief that baptism is for the church today is some minority position rather than the universal teaching of Christianity until the rise of hyper-dispensationalism.

If baptism is not for the church today, then why did Jesus command the apostles to make and baptize disciples in Matthew 28:19-20? If baptism is not for today, then why should we believe that making disciples of all nations is also for today? This is the same kind of argumentation that the hyper-Calvinists used. They argued that the command to make disciples of all nations was only given to the apostles and therefore there was no command for the church today to do so. But as William Carey pointed out, this line of reasoning also makes the command to baptize only for the apostles as well so that if we are  going to argue that we have no warrant to reach the nations for Christ today, to be consistent, we should not baptize anymore either resulting in a reductio ad absurdum.

If baptism is not for the church today, then why did Paul baptize the Gentile Philippian jailer and his family in Acts 16:33? Why did Paul baptize Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas in Corinth? Why is the book of Acts filled with references to baptism? Why does Paul assume that all of those he is writing to have been baptized? (Rom 6:3-5; Gal 3:27). The New Testament assumes that all Christians have been baptized to signify their desire to follow Jesus as Lord (Acts 19:3-5; Eph 4:5; Col 2:12; 1 Pet 3:21).

A common verse used to argue that baptism is not for the church today is 1 Corinthians 1:17 where Paul says, “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” But this argument completely ignores the context of the verse where Paul says that he did baptize Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas. When Paul says he was not sent to baptize, the point he is making is that the proclamation of the gospel is more important than the act of baptizing. We are saved through the proclamation of the gospel, not through the action of immersion in water. Paul’s primary mission was to preach the gospel, not to baptize. But that does not mean he never baptized people.

Another verse that is used for their position is Ephesians 4:5 which speaks of “one baptism” all Christians share in. They argue that because there is only “one baptism,” water baptism cannot be for today or else there would be two baptisms: one in water and one in Spirit (1 Cor 12:13). But Paul can speak of “one baptism” because he assumes that all Christians have been baptized. Water baptism unites all Christians together because it is an event which every Christian would have participated in as part of their conversion process into the Christian faith. Paul’s point is that there is only one water baptism into which we are baptized. There are no additional baptisms after that which distinguish some Christians from others.

What Is Donatism?

Donatism is the belief that the sacraments given by clergy who had abandoned the faith under persecution and then came back are invalid. During the persecution of Diocletian, many priests renounced the faith to save their lives. After they returned to the church, the party of the Donatists, named after Donatus Magnus who served as Bishop of Carthage, argued that they could no longer serve as priests and that the baptisms they administered were invalid. Those who had been baptized by them needed to be rebaptized since only a true minister of Christ can perform valid baptisms. Because they had renounced the faith, the Donatists argued that they were unqualified for office and therefore their sacraments were invalid as well.

The Donatists also argued that those who abandoned the faith needed to be rebaptized in order for them to be readmitted to the church. This distinguished them from the Novatians who had previously taught that no apostate can ever be restored to the church. Whether or not a person’s baptism was valid was seen as a matter of salvation or damnation because the church at that time generally believed that the act of baptism brought about regeneration. That means if your baptism was invalid, then you still needed to be baptized in order to be born again. Therefore, according to the Donatists, those who were baptized by priests who previously abandoned their profession of the faith still needed to be baptized by a valid priest in order to be born again.

On the other hand, the Roman church believed that a person’s baptism was valid regardless of the character of the priest who performed it. Baptism is valid ex opere operato “from the work worked” or by the action of the thing performed meaning that baptism is valid by the action itself regardless of who performs it. In contrast, the Donatists believed baptism was only valid ex opere operantis “from the work of the worker” meaning that only certain people can perform valid baptisms. Serious sin excludes a person from giving valid baptism. The Donatist view of ex opere operantis appears to have been the belief of Cyprian before he was beheaded for his faith. This disagreement created a schism in the church that lasted until the Muslims wiped out Christianity in North Africa in the eighth century. The Council of Arles in 314 declared that the ordinations made by priests who had previously renounced their faith were still valid contrary to Donatist belief.

Today, Baptists are accused of being Donatists because they rebaptize those who were already baptized as infants. But the reason why Baptists view infant baptism as invalid is very different from why the Donatists viewed the baptisms done by priests who had apostatized as being invalid. Baptists actually disagree with both sides in this debate. The Donatists were wrong to say that a baptism is invalid because the person giving it had been immoral in the past while the proto-Catholics were wrong to believe that the act of baptism itself brings about regeneration. Both sides were wrong to view baptism as regenerative.

If your pastor is a hypocrite and later abandons his profession of the faith after you were baptized by him, you do not need to be rebaptized. Your baptism is valid by virtue of the fact that it is true Christian baptism: the baptism of a believer by immersion in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the context of the true church. A person does not have to be morally perfect or even a pastor to give valid baptism (Acts 6:5; 8:38). The New Testament does not explicitly indicate who is allowed to baptize and who is not. So how do we determine whether or not a baptism is valid? A baptism is invalid if:

  1. It is not done by immersion in water since baptisma means immersion (the correct mode).
  1. It is not done to a true Christian who has placed his or her faith in Christ since Christian baptism is a baptism of disciples alone (the correct subject).
  1. It is done by an apostate church that teaches heresy since only the true church can give true sacraments (the correct church).
  1. It is done without the name of the Triune God since there is no other God (the correct God).

Baptism for the Dead in 1 Corinthians 15:29

What did Paul mean when he said, “Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?” (1 Cor 15:29). This verse has perplexed Christians for ages and there is no shortage of interpretations that have been given. In order to properly interpret this verse, we need to answer several questions:

1. Who is being baptized?

2. Who are the dead?

3. What baptism is this?

4. How do the dead benefit from this baptism?

5. Does Paul approve of this practice?

I believe the baptism of this verse is Christian baptism for several reasons: there is no archaeological or literary evidence in favor of a pagan practice for being baptized on behalf of the dead, the practice of baptism is Jewish in origin, baptizō in Paul’s writings always refers to Christian baptism or baptism in the Holy Spirit, those who were baptized for the dead were professing Christians since Paul is using this baptism against their doubts that the dead will be raised while claiming to believe in the resurrection of Christ, and he does not rebuke them for this practice anywhere in his letters. If this was a practice Paul did not approve of, then it is unbelievable that he would never say anything against it. That means those who are baptized are professing Christians, those they are baptized for are Christians who have died, the baptism of this verse is Christian baptism, and Paul does approve of this practice.

But how is Christian baptism a baptism for the dead? It is for them in the sense that new Christians join the visible church through baptism taking the place of those who have died. The preposition “for” should then be understood as “in the place of” rather than “for the benefit of.” Paul’s argument would then be, “Why were you baptized into the church to take the place of those who have died if you do not believe those who have died are going to be raised from the dead? If they are not going to be raised, then you will not be raised either. Baptism is a picture of resurrection from the dead. Why would you participate in this act symbolizing resurrection if you do not believe in a future day of resurrection?”

Why I Am a Baptist

A Baptist is a Christian who believes that the only fit subjects for Christian baptism are professing Christians. This is in contrast to the belief in infant baptism which intentionally allows those who are not Christians into the membership of the church. It is also in contrast to the belief that a person cannot be a Christian until he or she has been baptized. Rather, Baptists believe that it is only those who are already professing believers in Christ who are allowed to be baptized. This conclusion flows from the New Testament’s teaching on the nature of the church as a body of regenerate believers. Since the infant children of believers are not regenerate or members of the new covenant, they cannot receive the sign of the new covenant. Only those who are members of the new covenant may receive the signs of the new covenant. This excludes all of those who are unregenerate.

Baptism is the immersion of the believer in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is how Christians publicly profess their faith in Christ to the world. It symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and affirms that we were united with him in his death and resurrection. Baptism pictures the death of our old self and the resurrecting power of the Holy Spirit who has made us new creations in Christ. It is the sign of the new covenant and the public proclamation of our allegiance to King Jesus. When we are baptized, we are made members of the local church and enter into all the benefits of membership in a church including the Lord’s supper (Acts 2:41-42). Baptism is also a public act of repentance signifying our turning from sin to Christ. Only believers may partake of the ordinances of Christ because the signs of the new covenant are limited to those who are in the new covenant (Heb 8:6-13; 9:15; 10:15-18; 12:24). Since Christ intercedes on behalf of all those in the new covenant, all of them must be saved.

In contrast to credobaptism, the practice of infant baptism is without biblical warrant. It has neither command nor example in Scripture to support it. The English word “baptism” is a transliteration of the Greek word baptisma instead of an actual translation. This Greek word is always used to refer to dipping or immersion when used literally and never to describe the act of pouring or sprinkling. The practice of baptism as pouring or sprinkling developed over time in response to the need to baptize those who converted to Christ on their deathbed. It is also much easier to pour or sprinkle water on an infant instead of immersing them. Pragmatism eventually triumphed over fidelity to Scripture in Latin Christianity.

The most cited verse of Scripture to argue for the necessity of baptism in order to be saved is Acts 2:38: “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Peter demanded that they be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins because baptism itself is an act of repentance. If those Peter was speaking to had refused to be baptized, it would have demonstrated that their repentance was not genuine. Baptism would have meant being kicked out of the synagogue (John 9:22). The costliness of baptism in the first century decreased the likelihood of false converts. There are no “secret agent” Christians who do not profess their faith publicly. Repentance and baptism are not two different requirements for salvation any more than repentance and turning are two different requirements for forgiveness in Acts 3:19. Baptism is the outward expression of repentance, not something separate from it. Repentance can only come from a heart that has been regenerated by God through the gospel (Jam 1:18; 1 Pet 1:23). The gospel, not the act of baptism, is the instrument of regeneration. Those who are in the flesh cannot do anything pleasing to God (Rom 8:7-9). But faith, repentance, and baptism are pleasing to God which means regeneration must occur before them (1 John 5:1).

Should Robots Be Baptized?

This is the answer I gave for my Christian Ethics final in seminary on the question of what advice would I give a pastor who came to me asking whether or not a humanoid robot should be baptized:

Joshua, thank you for coming to see me about this most difficult ethical problem.  We truly live in an evil time when God’s original designs for the family and children have been perverted to serve the interests of fallen men and women.  You began by saying, “There’s nothing about this in the Bible.”  I am very concerned that you, a Galactic Immersionist pastor, do not believe that the Bible addresses issues related to the dignity of human life, childbearing, and the objects of God’s salvation.  Though issues like these are not explicitly mentioned in Scripture, because we believe that the God-breathed Scriptures are sufficient for training in righteousness so that we might be competent for every good work (2 Tim 3:16), these issues are addressed implicitly throughout Scripture.  As Christians, God’s Word is foundational to our lives because it itself is the truth which cannot be broken (John 10:35; 17:17).  It would be easy to go along with our culture in accepting robo-frankenbabies as an acceptable way of having children, but we must instead hold fast to the traditions of Scripture as our final authority (2 Thess 2:15).

To answer your question, “Should I lead him to Christ?”, the answer must be a resounding “no!”  You absolutely cannot lead him to Christ because he is a robot and therefore is not a descendant of Adam, not cursed and fallen because of original sin and therefore not a sinner or an object of God’s wrath, not made in the image of God, not truly human, not an object of Christ’s death, not formed by God as a result of sperm and egg, but he is instead a creation of computer programmers with the body parts of cloned dead people.  He is not made in the image of God, but in the image of man.  A robot, no matter how human-looking, is the creation of man.

When God created mankind, he made them in his image (Gen 1:26-27).  Even after the fall, mankind is still made in the image of God and so must be put to death if they murder other humans made in God’s image (Gen 9:6).  Should a person be executed for destroying a computer?  Would I have to die if I accidentally spilled coffee on one of those old laptop computers?  Should a computer be executed if it electrocutes someone?  If Aidan were to kill someone, would he be held responsible or would the programmers who program what he does?  The programmers would be held responsible because the choices Aidan makes are the result of pre-programmed algorithms.  This is proof that our society does not see robo-frankenbabies as made in God’s image or truly human as much as they try to make them human.  Because looks can be deceiving, we must rely on God’s Word as our final authority in ethical matters.

One aspect of being human is the ability to be male or female (Matt 19:4).  A computer is neither male nor female because maleness and femaleness are characteristics of living creatures.  Aidan’s male body comes from human clones that were killed to supply the robot brain with a “body.”  While the clones are truly human because they are conceived with human sperm and egg, the movements of Aidan’s clone body parts are controlled by a man-made computer, not a brain created by God.  Remember, God has created marriage between a man and a woman to glorify himself through picturing the relationship between Christ and the Church and to produce godly offspring (Mal 2:15).  Aidan is not a creation of God through the union of sperm and egg, but a creation of man which can be bought from a computer company, not the offspring of a man and a woman.  His “brain” is made of metal and computer chips.  His emotions and guilt come from a computer brain designed by man and thus they are no more real than those of a holographic projection.

We must never forget that it is God who forms man in the womb (Ps 139:13-16).  Job declares that it was God who made him in the womb (Job 31:15).  It is God who makes us; we do not create ourselves (Ps 100:3).  We are the work of God’s hand, not man’s (Isa 64:8).  This is directly relevant to the problem we are dealing with.  The scientists who make robo-frankenbabies think that they can usurp the place of God by trying to create people themselves.  But they are not the work of God’s hands because those that God creates are formed by him in the womb as a result of the union of a male and female.  Because Aidan was made by man in a factory, he was not formed by God in the womb and thus not an object of God’s special creation and cannot therefore be an object of God’s redemption.  He is not created by God, but by men who are trying to become their own gods by murdering human clones for body parts to clothe their machines.

The blood of the innocent cries out against those who kill them for their body parts (Prov 6:16-17; Exod 20:13; Gen 4:10).  The creation of these cyborgs with human body parts is wicked in God’s sight not only because it usurps his sovereignty over creation, but because it is murder disguised in the name of progress and helping those who are infertile.  Instead of helping infertile women conceive in the way that God designed, they are killing clones conceived in Petri dishes to make these monstrosities.  God never intended for conception to take place in a Petri dish.  He likewise never intended humans to be without parents because conception involves both a male and a female.  By taking sperm and egg from anonymous donors, the clones that are killed have no mom or dad.  The entire process of making robo-frankenbabies is a complete defying of God’s sovereignty over the womb.  Do not allow your emotions to blind you to the reality of what is going on here.

Aidan is not truly human because he is not descended from Adam, the head of the human race.  Adam’s genetic material is passed down through sperm and egg as the result of the union of a man and woman.  Because he is not descended from Adam, he is not in Adam and thus not fallen as Adam’s descendants are (Rom 5:12-21).  Because he is not in Adam, he cannot be in Christ.  In order to be redeemed by Christ, he must first be fallen in Adam (1 Cor 15:22).  Christ became man in order to redeem man (Heb 2:14).  He did not become a robot or an angel, but became man so that he could suffer in our place.  He did not die for angels because he did not become an angel (Heb 2:16).  He likewise did not die for Aidan because he did not become a robot, but a human like you and me.  Did Christ die for the computer that transported you over here?  Of course you would say no.  Why should it be any different for Aidan just because he looks more like you and me?

You told me that in your conversation with Aidan he said, “I know I’m a sinner.”  It may be that Aidan has done some things that are condemned in Scripture, but remember, these “sins” are the result of programming, not a fallen nature because of the fall of Adam.  Aidan is not a sinner any more than a dog or a cat is a sinner.  The law of God is only binding on man, not animals or robots made by man.  A sinner is a person who has broken the law, but Aidan cannot be a sinner because he is not under the law.  Christ came to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15).  But because Aidan is not a sinner, Christ could not have come to save him any more than any other computer created by man.

You said that Aidan feels guilty.  But being guilty implies culpability on the part of the one committing the crime.  Aidan is not guilty for the wrong things he has done because those are the result of programming, not rebellion against God.  His guilt is the product of a robot brain, not the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit does not regenerate non-humans to new life because only fallen men and women in Adam need salvation from the affects of the fall.  Remember, salvation is a multi-faceted work.  It involves election, calling, regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification.  Do you really think a cyborg can be conformed to the image of Christ when all of Aidan’s actions and thoughts are the result of a computer?  Do you really believe that Aidan will live on after his computer permanently crashes or that he will be resurrected from the dead?

Aidan cannot be a participant in the Kingdom of Christ because he cannot be in Christ because only fallen descendants of Adam can be redeemed by Christ.  He will not be resurrected from the dead because he did not fall in Adam (1 Cor 15:22).  He cannot be a member of a church because only those who know God and thus have God’s law put into their minds can participate in the New Covenant community (Heb 8:10-12).  Can a robot have God’s law written on his heart?  Aidan’s mind is a computer created by man, not a brain designed by God.

Aidan cannot be baptized because, as Galactic Immersionists, we believe that only disciples of Christ can be baptized (Matt 28:19).  Disciples of Christ are Christians (Acts 11:26).  Aidan cannot be a Christian for all of the reasons listed previously and because a robot cannot be indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:7-9) – a necessary requirement for belonging to Christ.  Baptism involves confession of sins for repentance resulting in forgiveness (Matt 3:6,11; Acts 2:38).  Robots do not have sins to repent of or a need of forgiveness.  Because Aidan does not have the Holy Spirit indwelling him, he cannot be baptized (Acts 10:47).  Baptism is also into the name of Christ (Acts 19:5; Gal 3:27) presupposing that the person is in Christ.

You said earlier that, “I’ve been told my whole life to offer the Gospel to every repentant sinner.”  You should offer the gospel to every sinner, but Aidan is not a sinner because he is not fallen in Adam.  Aidan told you that, “I know that I deserve to go to hell.”  Aidan will not go to hell because he is not a sinner, not a partaker in original sin, or under God’s wrath any more than an old-fashion calculator is.  Jesus does not love him as one of God’s creations.  In fact, Jesus hates the robo-frankenbaby industry because it involves murder.  As for John 3:16, the term “whosoever” is part of the phrase pas ho pisteuōn “all the ones who are believing.”   “Whosoever” cannot be separated from “believes.”  The message of John 3:16 is that God gave his Son so that those who believe – “whosoever believes” might be saved.  Because Aidan cannot trust in Christ to save him, he cannot be among those who believe.

You should tell Aidan that he is not a real boy, but a robot with human body parts.  Though he cannot be saved, you can comfort him by telling him that he cannot go to hell either.  As a cyborg, he is not under God’s wrath like a fallen son of Adam.  Tell him that it is better for him to be a theistic robot than an atheistic robot.  Even though he cannot be a member of your church, he can still tell real humans about Christ and invite others to come to church.  He may be able to help around the church when he is older too.  Because his human “parents” still need to hear the gospel, Aidan should tell his parents about Christ and invite them to church.

You need to sit down with Aidan’s parents to explain the gospel to them and tell them to repent of being involved in this despicable industry.  They will accuse you of being robo-frankenophobic for not accepting Aidan as a real human boy, but you must stand firm in your convictions and direct them to what Scripture says about humanity and the moral evil of killing others to make these cyborgs.  Instead of choosing to adopt, they have selfishly decided to kill others to make body parts for a robot that looks like them genetically.  Tell them that God’s grace is greater than this sin and that God is merciful and compassionate to those who turn to Christ for forgiveness.  Even the great sin of murder can be forgiven in Christ.  The blood of Christ is the only remedy for a guilty conscience (Heb 9:14).  Tell them about all that I have told you and why you do not believe that Aidan is a real boy.  By the way, what are cyborgs doing in your VBS to begin with?

Before you go, I would like to provide you with some of the wisdom of the past that is relevant to this issue.  The Southern Baptist Convention in 2001 passed a resolution on human cloning that states, “Efforts to clone human beings represent a decisive step toward substituting human procreation with biological manufacturing of humans.”  Even then, they warned against the dangers of cloning foreseeing many of the great tragedies brought about by it.  They further stated that, “The biblical witness declares that children are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3-5) and are to be the offspring of a husband and wife (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:24; 9:1-2), not the result of asexual replication.”

A manifesto written in 2003 called “The Sanctity of Life in a Brave New World: A Manifesto on Biotechnology and Human Dignity” deals with this very issue: “As C. S. Lewis warned a half-century ago in his remarkable essay The Abolition of Man’ the new capacities of biotechnology give us power over ourselves and our own nature. But such power will always tend to turn us into commodities that have been manufactured. As we develop powers to make inheritable changes in human nature, we become controllers of every future generation. . . . . No matter what promise this might hold—all of which we note is speculative—it is morally offensive since it involves creating, killing, and harvesting one human being in the service of others.”  My prayers go with you Joshua as you go out to confront the every-changing world of ethics with the never-changing gospel of Christ.

The Holy Children of 1 Corinthians 7:14

What did Paul mean in 1 Corinthians 7:14 when he said, “For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy”? This verse has perplexed many Christians throughout the centuries and paedobaptists use this verse to support infant baptism since they argue that the holiness Paul speaks of demonstrates that the infant children of believers are part of the covenant community and therefore are deserving of the signs of the covenant. Despite the confusion, the answer to what “holy” means here is obvious from the context of the verse. Paul is addressing the question of whether or not a Christian should leave her unbelieving spouse and children. His answer is a resounding “no” and verse 14 gives the reason why.

The point that Paul is making is simply this: unlike in Ezra 10 and Nehemiah 13 when the Israelites had to forsake their pagan wives and children, a believing husband should not leave his unbelieving wife and children because the marriage is truly valid in God’s sight and therefore your children are legitimately yours and not illegitimate. A similar use of “holy” is found in 1 Timothy 4:5 in reference to acceptable food that would of been unclean prior to the coming of Christ: “For it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” God’s Word now declares that all food is clean (Mark 7:19). There are no more food laws binding on the New Testament Christian and the Old Testament laws concerning the invalidity of mixed marriages are not binding on Christians today though Christians are instructed to only marry in the Lord (1 Cor 7:39).

This means that these children are legally the children of the believing spouse and not illegitimate offspring. This use of “holy” is similar to the Hebrew term kosher describing that which is acceptable or allowed. If the marriage was not valid (like the mixed marriages of Ezra and Nehemiah), then the children born would be illegitimate and have to be sent away. But on the contrary, Christians are not Old Testament Jews living in a theocracy, but individuals called to dwell in the midst of an unbelieving world; to be a light shining in the darkness. For a Christian to forsake his children would bring reproach upon the gospel.

The paedobaptist argument based on this text is also invalid since the unbelieving spouse is likewise called holy since Paul uses the verbal form of the same word that is used to describe the children. If the children are to be baptized because they are holy, then the unbelieving spouse should also be baptized because he or she is holy too! As Abraham Booth explains, “If, then, that sanctification of the unbelieving husband gives him no claim to baptism, the holiness thence arising cannot invest his children with such a right.”