Baptism Decisions

Note: I am not against baptism nor do I wish anything but good for this particular young lady. The process of walking the aisle with a baptism decision and proceeding immediately to the dunk tank is one that I find of cultural significance in fundamentalism and I think it’s worth documenting here.

113 thoughts on “Baptism Decisions”

      1. ditto to Kevin. I mean, you can get baptized instantly in a church like this, no matter what your level of understanding, spiritual growth, or awareness of what you are doing. But a mustache like that must take years to grow to such maturity.

  1. My very fundy church growing up made you have a sit down meeting with a deacon or the pastor before they would baptize you. Having an on-demand baptism seems foreign to me; although I can’t say I necessarily would object to it.

    Also, Nice mural in the baptismal.

    1. All I got was a pamphlet. Then again, I got saved at around six (or so) and wasn’t baptized until I was 23. My parents quit going to church when I was 7 and I didn’t start going to church again until I was 22.

      In a way, I didn’t want to get baptized because I kept getting treated like a second class citizen because of it. They didn’t think I was a “real” Christian because I wouldn’t “express” my faith. The real fact of the matter was I wanted to learn more about it and didn’t want to be guilted into doing something I didn’t understand. πŸ˜•

        1. I got saved for the first time when I was seven years old (I kept trying again & again until I quit believing in god). But my parents for some reason did not believe I should get bapistized until I was a teenager. I could never understand their logic. I was young enough to sell my soul, but too young for grape juice & crackers and the giant bath tub.
          So I was treated like a second class citizen by other kids my age at my church until my parents decide I could eat Jesus and visit the giant bath tub. I was 16

        2. I, on the other end of the spectrum, “walked the isle” when I was 11 or so, took the membership class, and was baptized..but if you had asked me then what was the meaning of the gospel, or baptism, or.. anything..you would have gotten that deer in the headlights look. I wasn’t truly converted until I was 33.

  2. “Every head bowed; every eye closed. No one looking around. Ignore the man in the sound booth with the video camera ready to track everyone that walks the aisle. No pressure.”

      1. As the pianist, I usually had my eyes open during invitations, but I tried not to look out at the congregation since people were assuming their decisions were private.

        1. Wow! That is discipline! I’m a pianist, too. Strangely enough, I am now also on the sound tech team. Fortunately, our church doesn’t do altar calls–a fact that makes my mother sad. “Don’t you ever give people the opportunity to make a decision?” “Next time you visit, mom, I’ll try to remember to order an altar call just for you! Have your decision ready, ‘kay?”

        2. Sometimes I’d be SO GRATEFUL to be at the piano. The evangelist would be putting the high-pressure tactics on people: “Have you EVER had a moment of doubt about your salvation? God doesn’t want you to doubt! He wants you to know that you know that you know! Come forward now and get saved! If you’re doubting, you’re not believing and unbelievers will end up in HELL!” I’d feel so bad because sometimes I did doubt, and I’d be so thankful that I didn’t have to go forward at that manipulation because I had to play the piano! (And admittedly, if people came forward, I couldn’t resist looking!)

        3. I still find that I’m most comfortable being in church when I can hide behind the keyboard or the sound booth. Something about not wanting to be scrutinized; although, I’m setting myself up for big-time failure. Everyone knows that anything that goes wrong in the service is the sound tech’s fault.

          Thanks for your honesty about “peeking” at the aisle-walkers. Perhaps you need to “stand up from that piano bench and come down front where Brother Jim will pray for you. We’ll keep the baptismal waters warm for ya. I know the fine folks here can sing ‘Just As I Am’ a cappella.” Isn’t it sad how easy it is to write cheesy altar call script?

  3. Wearing a suit in the baptistry is a nice touch. The only time I’ve ever seen that done before is at our prior church. The officiating pastor at that particular baptism was a HAC alum.

    Jim K.

      1. hehe. i don’t know if i could grow such a glorious mustache. i once dabbled in having sideburns that connected to my mustache, but found that a full beard/goatee does a much better job of concealing superfluous chins.

    1. Work some good mustache wax in and twist those tips like some of the Wyoming cowpokes I know and that sucker should put like he’s got a miniature set of steer horns under his nose. Just have to watch he doesn’t put out the pastor’s eye with one of the pointy tips.

    1. ps – I have to give it to the guy in the clip. Wilford’s doesn’t measure up and it certainly doesn’t have the “I spend 45 minutes a day trimming and grooming this” look to it.
      Reminds me of the saying….why cultivate on your face that which grows wild on your a**.

    1. I read that account of the candidates’ debate the other day. Mr. Jimmy McMillan has (in addition to great facial hair) an interesting platform, which is, in fact, “Rent is too damn high.”

      1. Yeah, every issue he discussed was a result of the rent being too damn high. He also stated that he would generate a surplus of 6 trillion dollars (that is not a typo, it is trillion!)

        1. Sign me up for the $6 TRILLION surplusses by paying less rent! That is as magnificent a plan as I can come up with, and there’s no way anyone can say nonsense poopy pants to that kind of excellent planning. I say nonsense poopy pants to anyone NOT voting for the rent is too damn high guy.

  4. Remember the good old bad old days when a potential convert underwent intense scrutiny before baptism? The church had to be sure that the person knew what they were getting into because the secular powers that be had tendency to throw Christians to the lions…it was taken extremely seriously.

    And I’m sure they were also always on the look out for spies.

    Not that any of that applies in this day and time or in our culture. Its just interesting to see how things have changed.

    1. Ah, yes, the “good old days”, like the New Testament, in which EVERY baptism was immediately after salvation?

      I, personally, like the idea of teaching the convert so that they know what they are doing and are prepared to make a serious commitment; however, I cannot find the justification in Scripture.

      1. EXACTLY Roger…I agree on BOTH points.

        It is unsettling ot see how that in scripture the precedent is clear and yet the majority insisit on doing it differently……and even we have a hard time with it.

  5. Well, regarding quickie baptisms, what about the eunuch that Phillip baptized.

    The only problem I can envision is that the ladies need to make sure that they’re dressed properly; otherwise, when they rise from the water, something might be showing.

      1. Also, the guy was already evidencing spiritual awakening by having pondered the scriptures, which he had personally purchased just to be able to do and that would have been hugely expensive). He wasn’t a man who had never heard of these matters. He was a man following as best as he knew how, with persistence and dedication.

        1. And had read all the way through most of Isaiah, if not having read through the books of law, history, poetry, etc leading up to Isaiah. Was never sure which was indicated by him being as far along into Isaiah as he way.

          Admission, I could be all wet on this, was always just kind of a hunch.

    1. Did you notice the fancy camera work? Cut away as she came out of the water, then wait until she’s out of frame before cutting back to the baptismal.

      I’m waiting for someone to complain that baptisms are immodest because the wet robes are…clingy. πŸ™‚

  6. Darrell makes a good point. From my perspective, the immediate baptism possibly indicates one of two things, depending on the context: “adding to the numbers” (the ‘saved and baptized’ count for the year) or the “this is how they did it in the Bible”. Since there is no prescribed instruction, all they can do is go by perceived example…and make the best guess.

    The Didache says at one point…”Concerning baptism, baptize in this manner: Having said all these things beforehand, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living water [that is, in running water, as in a river]. If there is no living water, baptize in other water; and, if you are not able to use cold water, use warm. If you have neither, pour water three times upon the head in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

    Not to mention, the early church practice was that the candidate should fast before their baptism indicating that the candidate was perhaps older and understood what they were doing. If this is true, this would eliminate baptizing children en masse because they said “the prayer”.

    Thoughts?

    1. Mars Hill, Mark Driscoll’s church, does a lot of spontaneous baptisms. Would you all consider them “fundamentalists”? Honestly, I think the folks who comment on here are just against that Darrell says is “fundy”. This used to be a very light-hearted and humorous place, but it has gone from that to a very negative and mean-spirited site.

        1. My comment about being mean-spirited isn’t necessarily targeted at this post. I am referring to a wide range of other posts as well. In particular, the post about ordination. There is an entire thread of comments tearing apart the clothes that the pastor was wearing. I agree that a lot of what the Fundys do is wrong and unbiblical, but making fun of their clothing doesn’t exactly smack of godliness either.

        2. Oh dear! Somebody was tearing apart Jack Schaap’s clothes? He’ll have to hide under the white piano if he can find it.

        3. @Jonathan Pearson but the real question is did you see the white baby grand piano, that I still question it’s existence?

      1. Yeah, I’d consider Mark Driscoll a fundamentalist, but that’s a story for another time… (actually, we’ve discussed this in the comments on previous entries)

        BTW, it’s rather demeaning of you to claim that everyone here follows what Darrell says. If you’d open your eyes, you’d see that the commenters here represent a wide range of opinions.

        1. Indeed. In fact, I probably disagree with many of you in matters of theology, politics, and crockery. But we usually manage to have decent discussions anyway. πŸ˜‰

        2. Yes, I doubt that Darrell agrees with my theology and politics. And as for our preferences in china patterns … let’s not even start on that.

          But I respect Darrel’s thinking and like reading what he has to say. So far, he’s been too gentlemanly to comment on my thinking.

      2. Thanks for the comment Jonathan, but, I’ve thought for myself these past 48 years. If you will take notice, Darrell is talking about Fundamentalist CULTURE; Quickie baptisms are part of that culture…Mark Driscol really doesn’t figure in to the scenario because I don’t really think anyone considers him a “fundie”. No, this is all about the IFB, BBF and any other Fundamental Baptist(s) and those who have been snared in their functional terrorism.

      3. Lots of people consider Mark Driscoll a fundamentalist. I lean towards that, but am not totally sold out. JNNPR has repeatedly and often called Driscoll out, and named him as a fundamentalist.

        1. I tend to split the difference when it comes to Driscoll and certain other groups with Fundy mentalities but without certain external trappings by calling them “neo-fundamentalist”.

      4. Indeed it has —hate that I egged it on for awhile, just unleashed the monster a little more.

        Not that anyone is “bitter” or still has a fundie mentality or anything, because, well that’s impossible right?

        Right?

    2. The only thing that I would add to that is that no where in Scripture is there an act of baptism or an act of Salvation that is instigated by the disciple/apostle/believer to the sinner. It is always the sinners response to the Holy Spirit that provokes the sinner to say something similar to, “What must I do to be saved?” or “Here is water. What prevents me from being baptized?” When you read the book of Acts and see that it is always the unbelievers responding to the truth of the Gospel rather than being browbeaten into a recite after me prayer, it kinda flips the fundydom kingdom on its head.

      In watching the video I didn’t get the impression that this was an immediate response baptism. He mentioned that she had been converted for nearly a year prior to the baptism. Also, it looks to staged. Why would the camera person follow just her down the aisle? Maybe because it was a family member or friend who knew that she would be going forward to be baptized. It looks to me like that is how this church does things. They arrange such and such a Sunday for you to be baptized and that in order for you to get wet you must walk the aisle at the end of the service. Seems a little odd to me, but maybe the sound of “Just As I Am” brings back some memories. I know it did for me.

      1. They arrange such and such a Sunday for you to be baptized and that in order for you to get wet you must walk the aisle at the end of the service.

        That’s very possible. I’ve never seen it done that way but it kind of makes a (strange sort of) sense.

        1. I didn’t say it made sense. Just that it seems that’s how they did it. πŸ˜†

          Also, the memories of “Just As I Am” were not pleasant.

        2. That is how we did it at my old church. The preacher would have to come in on Saturday and fill the baptistry and then heat the water all night. There were no spontaneous baptisms at our church. I do not think it was because of a specific belief but because of the rigamarole involved in filling the tank.

      2. That’s what I thought, too. This wasn’t a spontaneous decision on her part. It looks like someone knew what she was planning for that morning and wanted to film the entire event.

      3. I still have to wonder if it was pre-planned why one has to walk the aisle during the hymn and stand around for 20 minutes of singing instead of just going to the back and getting changed.

        But who knows. People all have their own way of doing things, I guess.

  7. I don’t see any problem with doing it this way, as long as they’ve met with her ahead of time and made sure that she understood the significance of what was happening. She certainly didn’t seem to be pressured into it, and they said she’d been saved sometime in the past year.

    1. fundamentalists (at least the ones i am familiar with) do not practice spontaneous baptism. ditto to the observations made by grace2live and eric. i sorta wish this thread had been about wearing suits in the baptistry, the baptistry itself and/or the baptismal mural.

      1. The great thing is that all of you folks are here to keep me straight on this stuff. πŸ™‚

        So feel free to talk about all of the above to your heart’s content.

    1. That actually might be a special baptizing suit coat kept in the back. When he’s at the sacred desk there’s a pin on his lapel, and it’s missing when he’s in the baptistry (now you see it, now you don’t…sort of like the white piano). Still, not sure why he needs to where one. Anyway, he does tuck his tie into his waders.

    2. My current pastor always wears waders and a raincoat when he does baptisms. A a previous church he pastored he just used the waders over his suit and the church tradition there was to baptize before the service. Well, he couldn’t understand why everyone was laughing as he dunked a different person until he took the waders off afterwords. Half of his suit coat was soaked and he still needed to give the sermon without any time to go back (he probably would have taken the jacket off except he was wearing a white shirt underneath and felt a little embarrassed) So he just gave the sermon with half of his coat dripping wet.

  8. I was baptized as an adult when I married a Fundy and forsook my Presbyterian upbringing. The pastor had some concerns that the baptismal had not heated properly, and that since the baptism was at the beginning of the service, I might be uncomfortable for the remainder of the service, since it was January.

    I suggested that we move the baptismal to the end, which would give the water more time to heat and give me a chance to change and bundle up afterwards. He agreed. Sounds like a simple solution, no?

    You would have thought I had suggested sacrificing goats. I CHANGED the order of the service. Let me tell, you brothers and sisters, I was TALKED about for ages.

    1. My husband was baptized in a baptismal with a broken heater…in Jan…with snow on the ground.

      Pastor did all the talking just outside the door, Hubby and the pastor ran in, he was baptized and they ran out. Quickest.dunking.ever. πŸ˜†

  9. I visited a certain fundy church once and got the “are you saved” interrogation. Once they were satisfied that I had said the prayer properly years before, they then asked if I had been baptized. I hadn’t I explained that wanted to be dunked by my great uncle in the river- a family tradition- they would not hear of it. They started on about how they have the baptismal ready to go, God commands it of us blah blah blah…while almost dragging me to the door. I had to wrangle free from the crazy lady’s grip!

    Needless to say, I didn’t get baptized that day…nor did I return to that church.

  10. My old IFB church would usually schedule communion for the first Sunday of the month and the baptismal service for the last Sunday of the month.
    Looking back, what I find strange was the baptism of young children, some as young as four years old. But to truly believe a young child can make such a decision about his soul is absurd. This is also ironic since many fundie parents believe their children are too stupid to make any other decision for themselves until their children graduate from Fundie U.
    I can recall many times when young children would freak out and start crying as they approached the baptismal pool. If these children were full of the holy ghost, then why the fear? Back then I would just think the children were just too young to be saved, and had only parroted the sinnerÒ€ℒs prayer to please a parent or Sunday school teacher.
    Sometimes baptizing children is like baptizing a cat. Just another dispatch from the strange world of fundie land.

    1. Mark wrote, “This is also ironic since many fundie parents believe their children are too stupid to make any other decision for themselves until their children graduate from Fundie U.”

      You HAVE to post this under the cognitive dissonance thread.

      1. Rewatched, and I do think that was the same day. Several verbal cues indicate it was same day, and either he asked her some Q’s back stage or had someone had him a card w/ her A’s to standard Q’s, before dunking her same day.

  11. I don’t know. Biblically, it looks like the model is follow Christ and then immediately be baptized. The church in the book of the Acts of the Apostles seems to follow this. The treasury dude from Ethiopia did the same thing. I wouldn’t necessarily object to spontaneous baptisms. The last church I worked for and the one I work for now both have spontaneous baptisms. (‘Course, instead of a bunch of suits and ties, you’ve got shorts and tees, and instead of “Just As I Am” being sung, you’ve got something by John Mark McMillan.)

    1. I would tend to agree with you, but it also is true that with time, a lot of baggage got built up in the church.

      For the early church, baptism was synonomous with salvation. That was how you got saved once you believed. I think baptisms were carried out much more quickly.

      Then there was a time of great persecution and they had to be careful who they were baptizing. Could be a spy or something.

      Now with baptists, baptism does not even mean salvation. People get baptized over and over and over and over thinking that it is something they are doing for God, and not vice versa.

      In my Lutheran cathechism classes, we were made to understand what baptism actually is.

      I think this is a wise thing.. to know what you are getting into. Baptism means different things to different groups.

  12. WOW

    I have been out of fundy churches for only about a year and a half. This video took me back.

    Just wow. I cannot believe I went to a church like that.

    “Decisions decisions decisions”

    Nothing really about grace.

  13. There are many differing thoughts on baptism within the Christian faith and throughout the millennia.

    In the Bible, whole households were baptized, including babies. Some understand elements of their salvation, others did not. Or could not. This highlights the Grace shown *through* the speak act of baptism, as well as makes the VERY important theological point to illustrate how the disabled or mentally challenged may also be received. Mental acumen or special knowledge is NOT a qualifier. Thank GOD!! This new circumcision is for all God’s people, and the community of Christ.

    Against much popular or folk theology, Baptism is not so much a choice of an individual, or a sign to the world from the sinner, (as my fundamental roots seemed to teach) as much as it is an *induction* into the Church (general). Jesus saved “his bride” The Church, and a baptized Christian is brought into this *community* through this observance/sacrament. In the first decades of the Church, baptism preceded belonging to the church and also participation in Communion. Not that re-baptising should need to happen, on the local level. Once is plenty.

      1. Who cares? Just because it’s not explicitly mentioned in THE BIBLE doesn’t mean it’s heretical. Immersion is a ritual to symbolize what has already taken place – not a requirement.

    1. I would say that there is no reference in the Bible that refers to a baby being baptized. When it talks about whole households being baptized it is conjecture to assign ages to anyone where the Bible is not specific, no matter what side of the issue on which you land. Example: For me to say that the whole household was over 7 years old is just as much unsupported in the text as babies being present. I believe that the Bible is clear that baptism follows belief/regeneration.

      Here’s how I interpret Matthew 28:19-20(mine in parentheses)

      19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, (then) baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
      20 and (as well as) teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you… [NIV]

      I didn’t mean this to get so long.. oops.

      1. SDG – Hey tks, I couldn’t remember any instances of infant/baby baptisms, the only reference I could think of was the one you quoted there in Matthew, and I am basically in agreement with you on this.

        I’m not sure why my question got Melody so upset, I never said anything was heretical/required, or even thought that.

        1. Greg, I apologize for responding like that. I was having a rough day and didn’t think about how that would come across. I don’t think of myself as “rude and nasty,” but that wasn’t a good reply on my part. While we may disagree on certain issues, you don’t deserve rude responses like that. I hope we can continue to get along in harmony from now on. Again, I’m sorry. Melody

  14. P.S. I’m a very passionate person, and sometimes to a fault, and misinterpret others’ intentions. Please don’t take this as my normal behavior. πŸ™

  15. I don’t know this pastor or anything about his church, but I don’t really see a problem with this particular practice. After all, baptism is just making it public that you have been saved (and it is commanded in Scripture, though of course it has nothing to do with salvation). I also realize that just how public it could be has depended on the situation and the degree of persecution at that point in history. I think that a lot of Christians (not just fundies) equate baptism with a “church joining ceremony”, but that’s not what it is supposed to be.

    I have heard of some churches that make you jump through hoops to get baptized, as if they need to have 101 meetings and talks with you to make sure that you’re “saved enough.” It’s nice to see that they apparently don’t do that (at least as far as I can tell from the video).

  16. It’s so strange to see churches with baptismal tanks. Here in B.C., Canada, there is water all over the place, so if you get baptised, then in most cases you get baptised out in a natural body of water. I think I can remember one church in which I’ve ever seen a full baptismal tank.
    I got baptised when I was about 10. We made a church day of it, went out to a lake with a nice beach, had a picnic, baptised a couple of us, went swimming. I think if I had a baptismal tank I’d always be tempted to use it as a pool. Or put goldfish in it.
    At my current adorable Mennonite church, we baptise people in the river. The pastor wears shorts (*Gasp!*). He and the person being baptised have to stay very close to the shore, else they might get swept away when the water is particularly fast. That would be quite the embarrassing manner of death, eh?
    I like baptising outdoors, if baptism must be done. Not for any theological reason, I just think it’s nice πŸ™‚
    Baptism was a bit traumatic for me, because I’m kind of scared of water, and I didn’t really trust the pastor to pop me back up quickly enough.

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