Friday, January 14, 2011

Baptism in the Theology of A. H. Strong - Rebaptism

This brings up the second peculiarity of interest, viz. Strong's views on rebaptism. His views on the topic reflect the teaching of Brooks as found in "Rebaptism."[42] Strong believes that "since regeneration is a work accomplished once for all, the baptism which symbolizes this regeneration is not to be repeated." He also believes that there is no reference to a "second baptism" in the NT: the case of Acts 19:1-5 was not a rebaptism, "for the mere outward submersion in water to which they had previously submitted" was not a baptism.[43]

He expounds this concept in several scenarios. The first one is the case where a person is persuaded that he was mistakenly thinking himself regenerate at the time of his baptism. Strong advises that, if the ordinance had been administered "with honest intent, as a profession of faith in Christ," it should not be administered again. Here, Strong focuses on the intent of the person being baptized, as is made clearer by his second case. The second case is the one of someone who had previously experienced Campbellite immersion. If the person has "gone down into the water, not with the intent to profess a previously existing faith, but in order to be regenerated," then baptism should be administered to them when they eventually believe in Christ. But, if the person had been baptized with the intent to profess an existing faith, and therefore a previous regeneration, then baptism should not be re-administered, even though the original baptism was administered by the Campbellites for the purpose of regeneration. The third scenario is the case of a "fickle believer" who seeks rebaptism whenever his faith and joy have been rekindled. Here, since faith existed at the time of the original baptism, even though "much unbelief and many wanderings" followed it, the original baptism should be considered valid.[44]

Before I analyze and discuss Strong's doctrine of baptism, let's us take several post briefly looking at what some of his contemporaries believed.

[42] See: Kendall Brooks, "Rebaptism," The Baptist Quarterly 1 (April 1867): 129-42.

[43] Strong, Systematic Theology, 950.

[44] Ibid.

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