Thursday, January 20, 2011

Baptism in the Theology of A. H. Strong - Looking at Strong's Contemporaries - Part III

E. C. Dargan (1852-1930)

Dargan,[53] similarly to Strong, comprehends the act of baptism as representing "the burial and resurrection of Christ, and our death to sin and resurrection to a new life," therefore it is "not spiritually efficacious in any sense, but is symbolical and declarative." It is the declaration of a faith that involves repentance, obedience, and consecration. It is for "believers and believers only" and has as its mode single immersion.[54]

As in the case of Carroll, Dargan and Strong do not totally agree on the question of the agent of baptism. Dargan believes that "the agent should be himself immersed, and act under authority." Therefore, he finds fault with Strong's emphasis on the recipient's intent to obey Christ's command to the point of possibly disregarding the status of the agent. Ultimately, though, while Dargan thinks that all the evidence lies "against the propriety of accepting any of these so-called 'alien immersions,'" in good Baptist form, he acknowledges that the individual churches "have an undoubted right to decide the doubtful question for themselves."[55]

As for John's baptism, Dargan, while refusing to opine on whether John's baptism was Christian baptism, sees it as having "only illustrative value . . . as it was only introductory to properly Christian baptism."[56] He also sees Paul's actions in the Acts 19 pericope as giving "warrant for the rejection of an immersion not found satisfactory, and the performance of a true one in such case."[57]

[54] Dargan, Ecclesiology, 466-67; 463; 467-68; 407; 329.

[55] Ibid., 390-392; 394.

[56] Ibid., 401; 361. Dargan states: "We do not here enter into the debated question whether John's baptism was Christian baptism, but so far as the act and recipients were concerned there is no reason to consider them essentially different" (361). Goodspeed, a conservative Canadian Baptist contemporary, in Calvin Goodspeed, Baptism: An Argument and a Reply, 3rd, rev. and enl. ed. (Toronto: Dudley & Burns, 1892), 91, expresses the same sentiment of not wanting to enter a debate comparing John's baptism and Christian baptism, making one conclude that this must have been a contemporary topic of discussion. Unfortunately, no record of such a dialogue has been found by the author.

[57] Dargan, Ecclesiology, 363-64.

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