Saturday, January 22, 2011

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

H. G. Weston (1820-1909)

Weston[58] also has a similar view of baptism. For him, baptism is "the believer's acceptance of the terms of salvation, his confession of repentance and faith: Godward, it is the declaration of forgiveness; manward, it is the declaration of faith in Christ." Therefore, "it commemorates the burial and resurrection of Christ" and "it symbolizes the death of the Christian to his old life, and his entrance on a new life." Baptism should be by "immersion in water in the name of the Trinity, on a confession of faith in Christ," therefore limiting it to only believers. As per the administrator, Weston, sees the ordinance as a church act, therefore it "may be administered by any one appointed by a church."[59]

Weston does not refer to the baptism of John, but does opine on 're-baptism'. Here, like Strong, Weston states that if someone has been baptized "on a credible confession of faith" but later "supposes he was not regenerated at that time," baptism should not be repeated. He offers three reasons for this: 1) by doing so the focus is taken off the church, whose ordinance baptism is, and placed on the individual; 2) "in the repetition there is only what there was in the first instance–a credible confession"; 3) if it's allowed to happen once, this process could go on at infinitum.[60]

Now, having looked at the 'data', I will proceed, in the next several posts with an analysis of Strong's doctrine of baptism.

[58] Weston, after having been a missionary for three years, served as a pastor for twenty two years before becoming the first president of Crozer Theological Seminary. There he also served as chair of preaching and pastoral duties and lecturer on New Testament writings. See: E. H. Johnson, "President Henry Griggs Weston, D.D.," Bibliotheca Sacra: A Religious and Sociological Quarterly 57 (1900): 785.

[59] E. H. Johnson and Henry G. Weston, An Outline of Systematic Theology, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1895), 331-33; 337. Weston's Ecclesiology was bound at the end of Johnson's Systematic, for Johnson saw the doctrines of the church as pertaining "to another department of instruction, that of Practical Theology" (iv), and accordingly did not himself have a section dedicated to ecclesiology.

[60] Ibid., 336-37.

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