I have been a Christian since my birth. I have studied with most denominations including those that are considered cults. Among those are the Jehovah Witnesses, and the Mormons. My family’s denomination is Episcopalian. I was born in White Earth Minnesota, a 40 square mile Indian reservation. My family, on my mother’s side, the Rocks, were the priests for our local township, Pine Point (population 300). There, as a baby, in 1955, I was baptized using the formula in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. As a boy of eight years, I visited a Baptist church and was saved by accepting Jesus as my personal savior. Then as a teenager, I was baptized again in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of my sins. When I was a young adult, I received the gift Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues with the Pentecostals. I was a preacher and pastor in a Pentecostal denomination for fifteen years. I left my organization because of their perspective on grace. I became convinced that our legalism was taking from God’s glory as we established our own righteousness. I am saved by Grace through faith. I now pastor a nondenominational church. We are independent from organizations of men, but we are very dependent on God. I say this as a testimony of my sincerity in seeking the truth. Having covered the full gambit of denominations and their various beliefs, I feel compelled to speak on the subject of baptism. This question of baptism cuts to the very foundation of the Christian church and marks a division that is nearly two thousand years old.
Paul, the prolific apostle to the Gentiles, admonishes us in Corinthians that we all be perfectly joined together in the same mind and judgement.
He reminds us of our submission to Christ’s authority in his plea for unity using Jesus’ name. It would seem that we Christians should be joined together in the same mind and judgement and speak the same thing concerning this basic rite and foundational doctrine. Considering his point, one wonders why there is more than one way to be baptized. One reason for this hard dissimulation is the complexities it brings to bear on God’s very identity. In the minds of some, using Jesus’ name implies the inequitable distribution of glory to the members of the trinity.
This question will come up in the life of every Christian that studies the word of God sincerely. Why did the apostles baptize in Jesus’ Name while most Christian churches today baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost? Very little teaching is done on the subject today because this introduces a touchy situation with implications of infidelity to scripture. Teachers and leaders would rather not open up this can of worms. The subject is best kept under the rug. When trying to research the subject, one discovers a great silence on the subject by Christian writers. Local church ministers and layman who investigate and study the word and become convinced of Jesus Name Baptism are pressured by denominational and family ties to submit to traditional church by laws. Some that have tried to comply to a new conviction of scripture and have started baptizing in Jesus Name have been cast out of their church, losing their positions, while some clergy have been defrocked. It’s amazing that some calling themselves Christians refuse to use his name in baptism. Further go on to persecute other Christians who disagree calling them heretics. This is an ugly situation in the church.
The heart of this controversy originates from how the two camps interpret the scriptures:
Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38.
Both sides feel their interpretations are right and that they are obeying the great commission. A quick glance at the two scriptures will not reveal the preponderance of Biblical evidence on the subject. It would not reveal the apostles’ love and conviction for the name of Jesus. How these two forms of baptism come into existence will direct us to the fellowship of the apostles. How these two doctrines originated will reveal to us Jesus’ true intent and desire. Further, those who brought these practices into existence will help direct us to the proper doctrine to follow. A closer study of the word of God will bring us to the conclusion that we need to conform to scripture and lift the name of Jesus higher by baptizing in His name.
Jesus Name baptism originated with the Apostles of Jesus Christ as they carried out Jesus’ instructions from the Great commission (Matt 28:19, Luke 24:44-49). We can be assured that they were under the direction of the Holy Ghost because they received Him on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). We can be sure they were in his full intent because they had their understanding opened by Jesus himself at the time of the Great Commission.
45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,
47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
48 “And you are witnesses of these things.”
49 “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.“
This text indicates that the apostles were in a far better position than we, or of those of the second century, to understand Jesus’ directions concerning the Great Commission. They understood more than we about the correct interpretation of Old Testament scriptures. They also understood more about the founding doctrines of the church because it was their God given position. We are too far removed to give direction with complete confidence as indicated by our guessing what they were up to, as they laid the foundation of the Church (see International Bible Encyclopedia: Baptism, III. Difficulties, Section 2). It’s absurd to think that they were not aware of God’s intent considering that Jesus himself personally taught them and was overseeing their work. Suggesting that they did an incomplete job of laying the foundation of the Church is a compromise too close to the heart of the church. This would be to find fault with God himself. We don’t need to rethink their work we need to follow it. It’s a matter of understanding our place in the church. They were the founding fathers and we are the children. Our job is to obey and follow and continue to work of the kingdom, it is not to go to establish our own kingdom and glory.
It is a fact known among those that study the word of God and among Bible scholars, that Jesus name baptism was the modus operandi during the time of the Apostles (Hastings Bible Dictionary on baptism.). I have appended an extraction from The International Bible Encyclopedia on Baptismal Formula.
“The Apostles were baptized in Jesus’ name, and baptized all of their converts in the name of Jesus and never repeated the titles of Matthew. 28:19. Baptizing in the titles of Matthew 28:19 is a development of post apostolic teaching would-be church defenders, apologists.”
These apologists of the second and third century were the civil rights leaders of their day, their writing to the world, governments leaders, and institutions of learning. They were defending Christian’s rights to exist and choose. Their minds were clouded by self grandeur, fame, and positions in this world.