Critique of THE PROTESTANT'S DILEMMA by Devin Rose

Chapter 19 - Baptismal Regeneration

Page 128: From very early on, the Church has taught the doctrine of baptismal regeneration: that through baptism people are justified and united to Christ. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell within them, and they are then said to be in a state of sanctifying grace (friendship with God). The witness of the early Christian writings is unanimous in this understanding. But Protestants today have wide-ranging, divergent beliefs about this sacrament, which spring from the conflicting teachings of the Reformers themselves.
Note: Christians are justified before God through faith in Jesus Christ based on His death for our sins.
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:21-26.
Note: Will you believe the Apostle Paul or the traditions of men?

Page 128: The Swiss Reformer Ulrich Zwingli was the first major figure to propose the idea that baptism is just a symbol that signifies God’s covenant with us. This novel idea was consistent with Zwingli’s other theological ideas (especially the figurative interpretation of the Eucharist), and it was another point on which he diverged from Luther, who held to baptismal regeneration.
Note: Christians have forgiveness of sins through the death of Jesus Christ through faith in Him.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. Ephesians 1:7-10.
Note: Who or what is your Savior from damnation? Jesus Christ or your baptism? It is your eternal choice.

Page 129: For most Protestants, especially Evangelicals, baptism is something that they do for God. It’s a stand they take, a message they send to their church and to society. They make a decision to give their life to Jesus, and they get baptized to demonstrate outwardly to the church what Jesus has already done in them inwardly. They believe that God gives no grace through baptism; rather, they believe that they already received the Holy Spirit when they asked Jesus into their hearts and put their faith in him as their Lord and savior. All of the important things, the ones that Protestants believe are necessary for salvation, have thus been completed, so by getting baptized they are simply demonstrating their obedience to Jesus and making a public proclamation of their faith in him for all to see.
Note: Christian salvation precedes baptism.
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days. Acts 10:44-48.
Note: Salvation and receiving the Holy Spirit precedes baptism in the apostolic record.

Page 129: Luther and Calvin, on the other hand, held baptism to be more than symbolic, tying it directly to justification. Neither wished to jettison the ancient belief in baptismal regeneration. Calvin taught that baptism was the normative means of salvation, writing: “It is true that, by neglecting baptism we are excluded from salvation.” But Calvin was concerned with people believing that baptism was some kind of magical ritual. So he maintained that an obstinate person, or anyone who received it in a blind, superstitious way, would not be regenerated through baptism.
Note: The reformation evolved first addressing the total decadence of the Catholic Church.
The Protestant Reformation, often referred to simply as the Reformation, was the schism within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other early Protestant Reformers. Although there had been significant attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church before Luther—notably those of John Wycliffe and Jan Hus—the date most usually given for the start of the Reformation is 1517, when Luther published The Ninety-Five Theses. Luther started by criticizing the relatively recent practice of selling indulgences started by the Roman Catholic Church, partially to fund the construction of the St. Peter's Basilica; he attacked the indulgence system, insisting that the pope had no authority over purgatory and that the doctrine of the merits of the saints had no foundation in the gospel. The debate widened until it touched on many of the doctrines and devotional Catholic practices. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Pages 129-130: Luther believed that the fundamental promise for salvation was found in Jesus’ command to his apostles to baptize, found in Matthew 28. He taught, as the Catholic Church does, a sacramental understanding of baptism: that it is something that God does for us. A person places his faith in Jesus Christ, who baptized him and made promises to him through this sacrament. As Alister McGrath put it, “for Luther, baptism was the cause of faith” – not, as for Evangelicals, merely a public sign of it. For Luther, the saving object of faith was what God has done for us through baptism.
Note: Christian salvation through sincere belief precedes baptism.
Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized. Acts 18:8.
Note: Will you believe the apostolic record or the traditions of men.

Page 130: Hence today Protestants see baptism as a wide range of different things: from optional memorial, to purely symbolic but important action, to an ordinance that accompanies faith, to a regenerative sacrament that causes faith to be planted.
Note: Christians are reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ based on His death for our sins.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Romans 5:8-11.
Note: Christians groups will believe the apostolic record to various degrees.

Pages 130-131: Evidence abounds from the Church Fathers, the early Church itself, and from the Bible that baptism regenerates. Around the year 150, Justin Martyr wrote: As many as are persuaded and believe that what we (Christians) teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly … are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, “Except you be born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Justin explains that in this passage Jesus is talking about baptism. Evangelicals would say that Justin is just wrong – that being “born of water” means one’s natural birth. So, to be saved, you must be naturally born and then born again by the Spirit (through a conversion experience). However, apart from being a little nonsensical (why would Jesus mention natural birth as a prerequisite for salvation?), this interpretation is directly contradicted by all the many Church Fathers who wrote about baptism.
Note: Christians are born again through faith (belief) in Jesus Christ based on His death for our sins.
Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:9-16.
Note: Fallen angels can never be saved since they have never been first-born.

Pages 131-132: Baptism is also explicitly mentioned in the Nicene Creed: “We confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” Interestingly, this creed is affirmed not only by Catholics and Orthodox but also by most Protestant communities. Yet Protestants do not believe that God forgives sins through baptism! So Protestant Christians are left in the inconsistent position of affirming this ancient creed while making a mental exclusion for the words “one baptism for the forgiveness of sins,” interpreting them to mean something like “one baptism of the symbolic, outward proclamation that one has put his faith in Jesus.”
Note: Christians have forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ based on His death for our sins.
For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14.
Note: Will you believe the Apostle Paul or the traditions of men?

Page 132: Scripture contains many passages supporting baptismal regeneration. One of the clearest is from 1 Peter 3:20-21. Just as God saved Noah and his family through the ark, Christ gives us new life through baptism, which cleanses us from sin and thus gives us a “good conscience.”
Note: A Christian is baptized as a result of a saved good conscience toward God.
There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him. 1 Peter 3:21-22.
Note: Noah and his family were saved from the water or the flood.

Page 132: On the day of Pentecost, Peter exhorts the people to receive baptism: “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Protestants like to emphasize the “repent” part at the negation of the “be baptized” part, but both are essential.
Note: The Apostle Peter was wrong on numerous occasions in Scripture.
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” Acts 2:14-21.
Note: The Apostle Peter also preached that the end of the world was occurring in Acts chapter 2.

Page 132: Paul, too, later in Acts, reinforces baptism’s essential role when he says: “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16).
Note: Ananias said that baptism washes away sins not the Apostle Paul.
“Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, came to me; and he stood and said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that same hour I looked up at him. Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’” Acts 22:12-16.
Note: Why is the author being dishonest with Scripture?

Pages 132-133: Because Protestants have been immersed in a tradition that rejects baptismal regeneration, when you show these verses to them you can almost see the scales falling off their eyes. They wonder how they never realized that Scripture connects baptism with forgiveness of sins and spiritual rebirth.
Note: The Apostle Paul never preached baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it. Now for a time of about forty years He put up with their ways in the wilderness. And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment. “After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David  the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior—Jesus— after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.’ “Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent. For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death. Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead. He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’ And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’ Therefore He also says in another Psalm: ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’ “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. Acts 13:16-39.
Note: Will you believe the apostolic record or the traditions of men.

Page 133: If Protestantism is true, then the early Church – along with Luther and Calvin – was wrong to teach the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, and the formulation “one baptism for the forgiveness of sins” in the Nicene Creed means something other than what the plain words suggest. Or perhaps the opposite is correct. Further, this interpretation of biblical verses suggesting baptismal regeneration is mistaken, leading to a skewed and misplaced emphasis on the importance of baptism over faith. Or maybe it’s right. The one thing Protestantism can say for sure is that Christ commanded his disciples to baptize the nations because baptism is essential for salvation. Unless it isn’t.
Note: The Christian Gospel is the death of Jesus Christ for your sins not baptism.
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Note: Who or what is your Savior from damnation? Jesus Christ or your baptism? It is your eternal choice.