If I were to ask Christian readers to define alien baptism, I suspect very few could do so. Alien baptism? Baptizing creatures from other planets? Baptizing people who are not legal residents of the United States? Nope. In the ersatz world inhabited by Independent Fundamentalist Baptists (IFB), alien baptism is the re-baptism of people who were saved and baptized in churches other than IFB churches. If Methodist Joe Smith and his family move to Purity, Kentucky, and want to join the local alien-baptizing Baptist church, they would be required to be re-baptized before being permitted to join the church and take communion. Now if an IFB family moves to Purity, they would not need to be re-baptized. Well, most of the time anyway. The new church pastor, before accepting them as members, would make sure that their previous church was a like-minded IFB church. If their old church was an IFB church but had different doctrine, the new church might require them to be re-baptized. Got all that?
Then there are churches that are commonly called Landmark (Baptist Brider) Baptist churches. These churches typically treat all other churches as alien, thus requiring new members coming from another church to be re-baptized. Landmark Baptists also practice close or closed communion. Churches that practice close communion will allow people who are visiting from a like-minded church to take communion, whereas churches that practice closed communion won’t. Most Landmark Baptist churches take communion (Lord’s Supper) every Sunday. Years ago, I preached for Jose Maldonado and the Hillburn Drive Grace Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas. When it came time for the church to take communion, Joe whispered to me, “we practice closed communion, brother.” In other words, I could preach at the church, but not take communion with them. Welcome to the wonderful, wacky world of the Landmark Baptists.
These types of churches, in a manner similar to the Roman Catholic Church, believe in Baptist successionism (Baptist perpetuity). Wikipedia defines Baptist successionism this way:
Baptist successionism (also known as “Baptist perpetuity”) is one of several theories on the origin and continuation of Baptist churches. The tenet of the theory is that there has been an unbroken chain of churches since the days of John the Baptist, who baptized Christ, which have held similar beliefs (though not always the name) of current Baptists. Ancient anti-paedobaptist groups, such as the Montanists, Paulicians, Cathari, Waldenses, Albigenses, and Anabaptists, have been among those viewed by Baptist successionists as the predecessors of modern-day Baptists.
To simplify things for readers: John the Baptist baptized Jesus, so that made Jesus a Baptist. Jesus baptized the disciples, so that made them Baptists too. This means that the first Christian church was Baptist (First Baptist Church of Jerusalem). So there ya have it, the Baptist church is the one, true, historic church.
The Campbellite movement (Restoration movement) of the 19th century which birthed the Churches of Christ and Disciples of Christ, found its roots in the Baptist church. Thomas and Alexander Campbell, in an attempt to restore the Baptist church to its apostolic roots, contended that baptism was required for salvation. The Baptists believed that baptism was an outward sign that one had been saved, whereas the Campbells believed baptism was salvific, that sins were washed away in the waters of baptism. Today, Churches of Christ and Baptist churches bitterly fight over which church is practicing New Testament baptism. Most of the debate centers on the word FOR (Greek word eis) in Acts 2:38:
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ FOR the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The Baptists believe the word for means because your sins have been remitted. Churches of Christ believe the word for means in order to have your sins remitted. Back in the days when I pastored churches in Southeast Ohio, I would preach sermons against the Churches of Christ. I would then take tapes of the sermons and mail them to local Church of Christ preachers. And they would do the same, refuting my Baptist ecclesiology and soteriology.
But Bruce, doesn’t the Bible say ONE Lord, ONE Faith, and ONE Baptism? Doesn’t this mean that all Christian baptism is legitimate in the eyes of God? Silly you, to think such things. ONE baptism? Why that is Baptist baptism. All other baptisms are — drum roll please — alien baptisms.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
Connect with me on social media:
You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.
Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.
Old Regular Baptists also practice closed communion. They do allow members from churches of the same association to also partake. Members from churches in a different association can do so as well as long as their association is in correspondence. The rules about preachers participating in meetings are similar. They also practice washing of the feet. At least the ones in Eastern Ky, Southwestern Va, and Southern West Va.
Well, going out on a limb here trusting my sometimes faulty memory, but isn’t there a distinction in some churches between “close” and “closed” communion? For a short while, I attended seminary at BMA Theological Seminary in Jacksonville, TX, and while there (and obviously still Christian back then) I befriended some Missionary Baptist student fellows, and I believe one of them told me (or I read it somewhere) about the distinction. From what I remember, some churches practice the “close” form of communion where only Christians who have been saved and baptized in that church or a church with similar doctrines and practices can partake, whereas in the “closed” form only those church members can partake, even if other Christians are present from likeminded churches. I do not know how prevalent this is, if it is true at all, because I never went to a church where this was practiced. All I can remember is what one friend told me at the time, that he believed the Holy Spirit would guide me away from my “open” (to all Christians, with several exceptions of course like Mormons and JW’s) communion stance to the “close” or “closed” position (I do not think he made the distinction). I remember thinking about the future persecution of Christians and how “close” or even “closed” communion might become a practical necessity. I guess in a way he was right: I have taken to a form of “close” communion (even if it is not the one he intended) so strongly, that I do not even partake of it, LOL.
Yes, as I mentioned in the post, there is close and closed communion. Of course, there is also open communion. I never understood close/closed communion. If someone professed to be a Christian, that was good enough for me.
And for me, Bruce, at the time. Close communion appeals to my control freak nature, though. Which means it is probably wrong. Not that I really should have an opinion on the matter any more, being an outsider. I just wish that Christians were kinder to each other. I do confess, however, that I try to watch trends and see how shrinking membership affects evangelism and recruitment (and I could cynically add, retention) policies. Love your blog as always. I just love that there are so many of us out there now coming out of the woodworks. And I hope we will treat others better than we have been treated.
Ah yes, the Briders! My first experience with them was with good ‘ol Dr. Bob! Didn’t find it out to the first semester of his “college”; my first reaction was “WTF??” as I had never heard this doctrine before.
Closed communion is the norm in most of the apostolic churches (Catholics/Orthodox/Assyrian Church of the East) save for the Anglicans.
I was raised in the Methodist church, where we practiced open communion, and before ever communion sacrament, the preacher openly invited anyone and everyone who was a practicing Christian to partake. One Sunday evening I attended a church service with a friend at a Baptist Church. They partook of communion by passing a plate. My friend shook her head as I reached for a piece from the tray, and I took it to mean I was not to partake. We never talked about it–I just knew I wasn’t supposed to partake.
Baptism has been a source of controversy throughout the history of the church. The Bible teaches by example that Baptism shows Identification and acceptance of teaching as well as obedience to Jesus’ command. The disciples of John the Baptist were baptized by John prior to Jesus’ earthly ministry. Those disciples accepted John’s teaching, repented, and were publicly baptized. But in Acts 19 these same disciples were rebaptized in the name of Jesus.
And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.
Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Baptism administered by a church carries it’s identification of doctrine and teaching. These disciples of John were re-identified by baptism to the doctrine and teaching identified with Jesus. Historically the church rejected baptism of churches with false teachings. They also re-baptized those who had been previously baptized (identified) with the church teaching false doctrine. When Constantine’s church became the State church (A.D. 313) and carried the power of the government, millions of saints refused to be baptized and were slaughtered for refusing to be identified with doctrines like infant baptism, baptismal-regeneration, and many many others.
Today there are so many churches, and so many flavors of Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, …..; it’s nearly impossible to filter who is baptized by a church with the right doctrine. As a Pastor I do know from experience, if someone gets easily offended about the ordinances of the church, they would most likely get easily offended at numerous other issues. We are not to be Lord’s over God’s heritage, but wise in being led by the Holy Spirit to not allow wolves in sheep’s clothing to enter in.
Are you saying with a straight face “When Constantine’s church became the State church (A.D. 313) and carried the power of the government, millions of saints refused to be baptized and were slaughtered for refusing to be identified with doctrines like infant baptism, baptismal-regeneration, and many many others”? Millions? I’d love to see some primary source evidence for your claim. Please read The Myth of Persecution by Candida Moss,
I suspect that the reason baptism is such a problem in churches is that ol’ JC made the mistake of saying that any baptized believer in him could to miracles
” 16 The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.””. Mark 16
Since no Christian can, it does have a tendency to show just how fraudulent Christians are. Not a one has the “right” doctrine.
I am not saying that millions were killed in the year A.D.313. But rather using that year as a mark in history which began a time of persecution against those who believed Christ and refused to accept doctrines different from Christ and His Apostles.
The Trail of Blood and Foxes Book of Martyrs are great sources. As well as How Shall We Then Live by Francis Shaffer. William Grady’s book What Hath God Wrought shows the same ideals carried into the 16th century and Baptists killed and persecuted even on American soil.
I’ll go through my library and mention a few other books as soon as I am able.
Tim, no need to cite other books. I’m quite familiar with the Landmark Baptist/Trail of Blood peculiar reading of history. I’m quite sure you can’t come up with millions of deaths, no matter how you add them up (unless you are claiming every person who died for their faith was on your team). I mentioned Moss’ book The Myth of Persecution because she deals with how Christians grossly overstated the level of persecution, number of deaths, and the reasons they were persecuted.
I’ve run across that “Trail of Blood” chart before and though I don’t have any university-level history or any theology, I found it totally laughable on both fronts. It claims to prove what hundreds of scholars at the world’s finest universities cannot.
They also fail to grasp the irony that the same “state church” they swear they have never taken part in is the one who dictated what is included and what was left out of the Scriptures they hold so dear. Twice.
In looking back over my spiritual journey and trying to get my bearings, I realize that one reason I have been able to retain faith in the Divine is because the Quaker roots of my faith are free of Calvinism altogether. It was only as a teenager that I came into direct contact with Calvinism and that damage was more enough, thank you very much.
And let me add that I am not saying persecution and martyrdom didn’t occur. It did. What I am saying is that the numbers are often exaggerated and the reasons for the deaths minimized.
the problem for Tim is that every Christian is sure that their version is the only “doctrine” taught by JC and company. Alas, he can’t show this to be true just like every other Christian he is sure is wrong.
it’s also quite a problem for Christians when their god does nothing about this “persecution”, when, ‘once upon a time’ this god had no problem in killing people who it didn’t like. You’d think it would remember the bits in the bible where it promises to protect its believers from every threat.
Obviously I don’t have an exact number of those killed and persecuted. And I wasn’t intending to imply those killed were only Baptist, but collectively those throughout the years who have accepted Jesus as Saviour and had conviction holding to Biblical doctrine rather than man’s.
Persecution and Saints being killed has taken place throughout time. Thankful that God has always had a remnant who believed and stood with convictions for the truth.
If the numbers are an exaggeration that was not my intent.Only God knows each name. What a joy to know He recorded each person in the Lambs Book of Life.
Tim, I would posit that Christians have killed each other far more than anyone else. No one hates each other quite as much as Christians who are quite sure that their version is the only right one. You all get quite upset if someone isn’t “accepting Jesus as Savior” in the “right’ way.
I grew up knowing how much Protestants and Catholics were sure each other deserved hell. They each were sure that they and they alone were in possession of “biblical doctrine”, and yep, none of you had any evidence of that at all. Each of you are quite sure that you are the only “remnant” of the “truth”.
Oh boy. As one close-by used to endlessly repeat while walking in circles around me: gobble-gobble, gobble-gobble…
I do love a well-roasted Thanksgiving. What a joy, indeed.
What a lot of fuss over… something that can’t be proved. It wearies the mind. Those people who dispute various kinds of communion have nothing else to do with their time.
I, on the other hand, like to read posts by Bruce and the comments… except those that weary the mind. 🙂
In reading the debate about the meaning of the word “for “ in the Acts verse, it occurred to me why fundamentalist and evangelical Christians love conservative politicians and judges: They will try to rule or legislate by some literal reading of the Constitution (or a law) and debate about the “original intent” of some word, clause or article. So while they say and do what their supporters want, they are (probably fortunately for us), they aren’t as monolithic as one might expect. (I say this as someone who grew up in a church (Roman Catholic) and spent part of my youth in another (Evangelical) that claimed to be the only ones following the Word of God. Oh, and I was a libertarian who thought that Republicans like John McCain and Bob Dole—both of whom I later came to respect —weren’t “real” conservatives.
The Southern Baptist church I attended growing up practiced closed communion. Only baptized members of that church could take communion. People who “moved their letter” to the church (aka became new members) could take communion after they were approved for membership. Of course, they were vetted by church leadership to make sure they were True Christians. If their previous church wasn’t deemed True Enough, they would have to go through training until they were True and would then be baptized I think that was all a ruse to insure compliance and to boost baptism numbers.