I have just finished reading your critique. I would like to bring up baptism, which is a subject in which you and I seem to disagree a bit. You commented that baptizo also means to identify with. Yet, nowhere in scripture is it ever used in that way. My question, I guess, is how do we arrive at that usage of the word from the Bible. Throughout The Acts baptism is always used as water baptism; why would deviate from that?
In regards to Acts 2:38, Gaertner (1993, pp. 80-81) writes, “A number of commentators have diminished the force of the phrase ‘for the forgiveness of sins” as this point seeking to sage guard the doctrine of salvation by grace. They take the preposition ‘for (eis) to mean ‘because of’ rather than ‘in order to.’ Peter, they say meant to be baptized because of the forgiveness of sins, implying that such forgiveness had already been given by the time baptism was administered. This position disregards the very common use of eis in the New Testament to mean ‘for the purpose of, in order to.” Matthew 26:28 where the exact phrase appears, Jesus says his blood is poured out for (eis) the forgiveness of sins. It would be absurd to argue that the phrase means ‘because of’ and that Jesus’ blood was poured put because sins had already been forgiven.”
Both repent and be baptized are joined together by ‘kai.’ We do not argue that repentance is not needed. Yet, whatever repent is for in this sentence be baptized has to be for the same purpose.
You also mentioned that Paul and I would be at odds with each other. I don’t see it. Personally, I think Paul makes the stronger case for baptism. While I argue salvation is by grace, and grace alone through faith, I give way to Dr. Jack Cottrell (Jack Cottrell, Romans [Joplin: College Press, 2005, pp.219-20]) who writes, “this union with Christ is not effected in the ritual itself, either by the water or by the act. It is accomplished by the grace and power of the living God alone. That it happens in the act of baptism is simply a matter of God’s free and sovereign choice; he has appropriately designated this event as the occasion for the beginning of the saving union with the Redeemer. It is not wrong to say that the external ritual of water baptism symbolizes or has metaphorical connection with the saving union. What is wrong is to separate the symbol from the reality as if the temporal connection between them is irrelevant.”
Schreiner (Thomas Schreiner, Romans [Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1993, p. 306]) asserts that unbaptized Christians were virtually nonexistent. He writes, “to refer to those who were baptized is another way of describing those who are Christian, those who have put their faith in Christ. Thus Paul is saying here that all Christians have participated in the death and burial of Christ as all Christians had received baptism. To posit here that the baptism mentioned here is simply metaphorical or baptism in the spirit rather than water baptism is incorrect.”
N.T. Wright(http://reformedworship.org/article/december-2008/n-t-wright-word-and-sacraments-baptism) writes, “Romans 6 is quite remarkable, when you think about it. Within twenty-five years of the crucifixion, Paul had already worked out this astonishingly deep and detailed theology of what it means to go through the waters of baptism, linking it to the Exodus, to creation, to new creation, and in particular to Jesus’ own death and resurrection.
Therefore, says Paul, the spectacular Good Friday and Easter at the heart of the Christian story—Jesus’ dying and rising—happened to us in baptism. Paul doesn’t hold back here: he doesn’t hedge and say “as if.” He simply says, You died with Christ in baptism and you were raised with him through the waters into the new life of belonging to Jesus.”
While many downplay the role of baptism, Paul raised it up. Many appeal to the thief on the cross, who died before the command to be baptized was given—his salvation was the same as any other Old Covenant salvation as it has to be remembered that at the thief’s death the New Covenant was not yet in force; it could only come into force the death of Christ.
With this little bit said about baptism, which is highly biblical, is there any biblical evidence for the sinners’ prayer that has become so popular? Is there one New Covenant conversion where the sinner’s prayer is used and baptism is neglected?
Until next time May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You: All Y’all!
Minister, Belvidere-Ryland Church of Christ
North Carolina, USA