The Trinitarian Formula in Baptism

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Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
Due to a recent thread discussing Oneness Pentecostalism the subject of the proper baptismal formula came up with some contending that the Trinitarian formula wasn't necessary.

1. Do you feel the using the Trinitarian formula is necessary?
2. Would do we make of those who have been not been baptized using the Trinitarian formula?

I feel this is a very important topic to soberly and honestly discuss considering we live in a time where Sacramental theology is either neglected or shunned completely.
 

Sven

Puritan Board Sophomore
WCF XXVIII:

"The outward Element to be used in this Sacrament is water, wherewith the Party is to be Baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the gospel, lawfully called thereunto."

Confessionally for Presbyterians, baptism is to be done in the name of the Trinity.
 

Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
WCF XXVIII:

"The outward Element to be used in this Sacrament is water, wherewith the Party is to be Baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the gospel, lawfully called thereunto."

Confessionally for Presbyterians, baptism is to be done in the name of the Trinity.

I agree 100%. But I would also argue that the Trinitarian formula must be practiced by all true churches.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
Marrow Man listed the Acts verses in the other thread, the ones the UPC uses:

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 Greek pronoun for "in" is actually "epi", which can mean in, on, or with.]

Acts 8:16 -- "For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." [The pronoun used here is "eis", which can mean "in" or "into".]

Acts 10:48 -- "And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord." [There is a textual variation here; some translations have "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ"; the pronoun used is "en", which normal means "in" can also be translated "with" or "into" in the dative.]

Acts 19:5 -- "When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." ["eis" is used again here].

So, in each of these four instances, different Greek pronouns and a different "formula" is used: "in the name of Jesus Christ", "in the name of the Lord Jesus", and "in the name of the Lord (or Lord Jesus Christ." There is no indication that apostles were using this as a formula statement, since they used a different variation in most instances. Instead, it is very much as you have stated, an authority/headship kind of statement of identification with Jesus Christ.


While clearly the apostles were not into modalism/oneness, the fact is they did baptize in the name of JC, LJC, LJ......not Father, Son and Holy Ghost. You can't escape that this is what the apostles did, and it is the only way the book of Acts reports then baptizing...never a trinitarian mention in an acts baptism. And it was not enough to be baptized with John's baptism for repentance of sin either, they had to be rebaptized into the risen Lord.

I would guess that back then, dealing with Jews, they wanted to emphasize that the authority of Jehovah had been given to the son? The son was equal to the father and one with the Father? Or they saw it like Romans 6 that baptism is death and burial and resurrection with Jesus Christ? I don't know.

I don't know what happened from the book of Acts to the councils that decided on a trinitarian baptism...maybe it was to prevent other errors, like that Jesus was not equal to God, and they wanted to make it clear that Father and son and Spirit were equal?

I do think that it is going a bit far to say that a Baptist church which is truly trinitarian in doctrine but baptizes the same way the apsotles did is not a true church. If the apostles understood the command of Jesus in such a way as to baptize in the name of Jesus ( and that all the authority of the Godhead had been given to the son) you can't say a true church cannot do it today. ( well, you can say it, I just don't agree :p )

There was a good quote on the other thread about having a magic formula mentality. " in the name of" means in the authority of, right? So the authority of Jesus Christ, or the authority of the Trinitarian God, is all God's authority. It isn't about the magic words being the right incantation.

When you have a baptism= circumcision view, the paedo view, there is less of the mentality of death, burial, and resurrection with Christ a la Romans 6, and maybe more of a sense of the Covenant people through all time, and identifying with the work of Jehovah God, and the son and spirit. More of a focus on all three. So in a way this sort of comes down to paedo vs credo don't you think? Paedo is trinitarian, and craedo more likely to baptize in Jesus name?

Just my thoughts. At anyrate, the UPC baptism isn't the same theology as a trinitarian baptist doing the words the same way.
 

Claudiu

Puritan Board Junior
Matthew 28:16-20:

16Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.

17And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

18And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost

20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
 

ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
Regarding the Acts passages: the Reformation era fathers had an explanation for this. From the English Annotations...

ch 10 v.48 To be baptized in the name of the Lord] For baptism is the sign whereby believers are openly declared to be the people of God: that which he saith 'in the Name of the Lord' we must understand as relating to the use, not the form of baptism. They were baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, as Christ commanded (Matthew 28.19) but here, baptizing in the name of the Lord importeth consecration to the Lord Christ and implantation into the church whereof he is head. So chap. 2.38; 8.16 and 19.5
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
WCF XXVIII:

"The outward Element to be used in this Sacrament is water, wherewith the Party is to be Baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the gospel, lawfully called thereunto."

Confessionally for Presbyterians, baptism is to be done in the name of the Trinity.

As well for Baptists:

LBC 29:3 The outward element to be used in this ordinance is water, wherein the party is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
 

Caroline

Puritan Board Sophomore
Due to a recent thread discussing Oneness Pentecostalism the subject of the proper baptismal formula came up with some contending that the Trinitarian formula wasn't necessary.

1. Do you feel the using the Trinitarian formula is necessary?
2. Would do we make of those who have been not been baptized using the Trinitarian formula?

I feel this is a very important topic to soberly and honestly discuss considering we live in a time where Sacramental theology is either neglected or shunned completely.

Well, I pose a question:

Suppose as an infant, you were baptized and the pastor was a little nervous and said 'Father, Son, and Jesus' by mistake.

You don't know about it because (of course) you don't remember.

Are you baptized?

I fully support baptizing in the Trinitarian formula. In fact, I support re-baptizing those who have a Jesus-only baptism (because of the Oneness implication of it which renders it, in my view, not a Christian baptism).

But still, the words aren't 'magic'. I think you'd be just as baptized if the pastor flubs the words as you would be if he didn't. It's a sacrament, not an incantation. So if it's a good Trinitarian church and they maybe got a bit mixed around in the words (for whatever reason) ... still a baptism, I'd say.

Question #2: Mormons baptize in the Trinitarian formula. Are their baptisms valid?

This is a bigger question to me. Does the church matter? Does the pastor matter? Does it matter if it is a pastor who baptizes?

I recognize that the OPC and other denominations have their standards, so really I'm asking more from a perspective of whether they would consider a pre-existing baptism valid.

On the one hand, supposing you were baptized as an infant by a pastor who later turned out to be a heretic. Again, you have no way of knowing this, and yet presumably you would still be baptized. On the other hand, supposing you were baptized by your 14-year-old cousin Justin because it was allowed by the church you attended at the time and they thought it would be cute. Are you baptized?

Complex questions that go far beyond baptism formulas ... but wow, I get asked stuff like this alllllll the time. I've never had a good answer.

Edited to add: Just to clarify, I'm drawing a distinction here between what is ideal and what is acceptable. I will agree that the ideal is to have a Trinitarian formula baptism in a good church by a pastor. I have often found, however, that baptisms are performed under less than ideal circumstances. If we say that a formula is 'necessary', then it implies that anyone not baptized under 'ideal' conditions is unbaptized, even if they have no knowledge of the conditions. This cannot be the case, so we have to draw another line .... what is 'acceptable', what is still considered a 'valid baptism'. And that's where it gets really fuzzy.
 
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Romans 8 Verse 28

Puritan Board Freshman
Due to a recent thread discussing Oneness Pentecostalism the subject of the proper baptismal formula came up with some contending that the Trinitarian formula wasn't necessary.

1. Do you feel the using the Trinitarian formula is necessary?
2. Would do we make of those who have been not been baptized using the Trinitarian formula?

I feel this is a very important topic to soberly and honestly discuss considering we live in a time where Sacramental theology is either neglected or shunned completely.

Well, I pose a question:

Suppose as an infant, you were baptized and the pastor was a little nervous and said 'Father, Son, and Jesus' by mistake.

You don't know about it because (of course) you don't remember.

Are you baptized?

I fully support baptizing in the Trinitarian formula. In fact, I support re-baptizing those who have a Jesus-only baptism (because of the Oneness implication of it which renders it, in my view, not a Christian baptism).

But still, the words aren't 'magic'. I think you'd be just as baptized if the pastor flubs the words as you would be if he didn't. It's a sacrament, not an incantation. So if it's a good Trinitarian church and they maybe got a bit mixed around in the words (for whatever reason) ... still a baptism, I'd say.

Question #2: Mormons baptize in the Trinitarian formula. Are their baptisms valid?

This is a bigger question to me. Does the church matter? Does the pastor matter? Does it matter if it is a pastor who baptizes?

I recognize that the OPC and other denominations have their standards, so really I'm asking more from a perspective of whether they would consider a pre-existing baptism valid.

On the one hand, supposing you were baptized as an infant by a pastor who later turned out to be a heretic. Again, you have no way of knowing this, and yet presumably you would still be baptized. On the other hand, supposing you were baptized by your 14-year-old cousin Justin because it was allowed by the church you attended at the time and they thought it would be cute. Are you baptized?

Complex questions that go far beyond baptism formulas ... but wow, I get asked stuff like this alllllll the time. I've never had a good answer.

Edited to add: Just to clarify, I'm drawing a distinction here between what is ideal and what is acceptable. I will agree that the ideal is to have a Trinitarian formula baptism in a good church by a pastor. I have often found, however, that baptisms are performed under less than ideal circumstances. If we say that a formula is 'necessary', then it implies that anyone not baptized under 'ideal' conditions is unbaptized, even if they have no knowledge of the conditions. This cannot be the case, so we have to draw another line .... what is 'acceptable', what is still considered a 'valid baptism'. And that's where it gets really fuzzy.

Caroline:

This PB thread (and specifically the post below by Rev. Adam King) may be of help:

ADKing said:
WCF 28.2

II. The outward element to be used in this sacrament is water, wherewith the party is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the Gospel, lawfully called thereunto.

See also WLC 165

Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein Christ has ordained the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, to be a sign and seal of ingrafting into himself, of remission of sins by his blood, and regeneration by his Spirit; of adoption, and resurrection unto everlasting life; and whereby the parties baptized are solemnly admitted into the visible church, and enter into an open and professed engagement to be wholly and only the Lord's.


Baptism admits into the visible church so at the least it should be administered by the visible church, no? As well as by a minitser lawfully called to that office in the visble church.

Also, if you type in "valid baptism" in the PB Search, then you should get links to numerous PB threads on this subject and related topics.
 

Caroline

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks, but that raises new questions (although I will look around at some other threads).

A lot of churches will ordain pretty much anyone who will stand still long enough. The youngest that I've ever heard of someone being ordained as a minister was at age 3, but in some churches, ordaining boys at age 14 or 15 as "pastors" or "elders" is fairly routine. On the other end of the spectrum, many churches (being started independently in someone's home) never formally ordained their pastor at all.

One would have to define what constitutes a 'lawful calling'.

Edited to add (wow, I'm just all about editing tonight) ... Perhaps I should start a new thread on this. I didn't intend to wander this far off-topic when I started posting. I guess, in my view, it's all circling around the same thing. Is a Trinitarian pronouncement 'necessary'? Well, honestly, I don't think anyone really believes that it is totally necessary (given the example that I gave above in regard to someone accidentally failing to give a Trinitarian pronouncement). But where is the cutoff line, then? If they meant to but didn't? If they did but it wasn't done by a minister? etc, etc.

My concern is actually that many of the ex-Pentecostals who have written to me express frustration at being unable to get a Reformed baptism. My personal opinion is that I wish Reformed folks were a little more free with the baptismal water. I think that if someone can make a case that their first 'baptism' was done under circumstances that can only be described as 'weird', then they should get a new one, if only for their Christian dignity. Nobody wants their baptism to be a horror story that begins with the line, "You'll never believe what happened at my baptism ..."

But anyway, as I said ... maybe going a little too much off-topic. I'll stop posting and think it over a bit ...

PS I define weird as: (1) baptism taking place in a bathtub (2) baptism resulting in totally immodest display (of the sort that you get when a church believing in immersion baptism also holds that women must wear loose-fitting skirts) (3) baptism performed by a child (4) baptism performed by a pastor who sexually abused the person who was baptized on a regular basis before and after the baptism (5) baptism in which the person baptized was kept standing in the water until they got the HG and spoke in tongues (6) baptism performed on someone who was old enough to object (not an infant baptism) but still done forcibly and over their objections. These are all situations that I have witnessed or people have written me about to inquire. (And actually my first baptism could be classified as #6. My hands had to be pried away from the sides of the baptistry so that I could be immersed).
 
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Romans 8 Verse 28

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks, but that raises new questions (although I will look around at some other threads).

My pleasure, soli Deo gloria! :)

BTW, I would've given a more detailed response last time. But I was getting sleepy and about to go to bed when I saw your post. I try to keep my responses as short as possible when sleepy. ;)

A lot of churches will ordain pretty much anyone who will stand still long enough. The youngest that I've ever heard of someone being ordained as a minister was at age 3, but in some churches, ordaining boys at age 14 or 15 as "pastors" or "elders" is fairly routine. On the other end of the spectrum, many churches (being started independently in someone's home) never formally ordained their pastor at all.

It seems of your examples, none would be lawful ordination. These are the practices I would expect of cults and apostate churches, esp. with regard to cults.

One would have to define what constitutes a 'lawful calling'.

I'd suggest Lawful Ordination by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon, it covers this matter and what constitutes lawful ordination of elders from a Reformed (Biblical) perspective.

Edited to add (wow, I'm just all about editing tonight) ... Perhaps I should start a new thread on this. I didn't intend to wander this far off-topic when I started posting. I guess, in my view, it's all circling around the same thing. Is a Trinitarian pronouncement 'necessary'?

In my humble opinion, it must be "necessary" because it's the Biblical and confessional position of the visible church.

Well, honestly, I don't think anyone really believes that it is totally necessary (given the example that I gave above in regard to someone accidentally failing to give a Trinitarian pronouncement). But where is the cutoff line, then? If they meant to but didn't? If they did but it wasn't done by a minister? etc, etc.

No offense, but I find it very unlikely that a minister would fail to do so without correction.

My concern is actually that many of the ex-Pentecostals who have written to me express frustration at being unable to get a Reformed baptism. My personal opinion is that I wish Reformed folks were a little more free with the baptismal water. I think that if someone can make a case that their first 'baptism' was done under circumstances that can only be described as 'weird', then they should get a new one, if only for their Christian dignity. Nobody wants their baptism to be a horror story that begins with the line, "You'll never believe what happened at my baptism ..."

This may be due (at least in part) to many today holding that Pentecostal churches are Protestant and true churches, etc. But personally I'd be in disagreement with this understanding. My understanding is that the Pentecostal churches are man-centred and heretical, that they don't hold to the Christ-centred Gospel. So if I was coming out of such a background, or any other cultic background, then I'd feel the need for a Biblical baptism too.

Furthermore, I have Pentecostal folks in my family. I would always cringe at one of my relatives often saying "Well, the Lord to hell." She attended a Oneness Pentecostal church occasionally as well. She would argue with me on the Holy Trinity being necessary, she'd say it's OK because they believe in Jesus too. Of course, this begs the question, what Jesus? Jesus as revealed in the Word of God or a false Jesus from a man-centred point of view? Sadly, it seems to me that the Pentecostal churches hold to the latter. However, I'm sure there are some on this forum who disagree with my understanding on this matter.

That said, I'd also recommend that you check out http://www.shortercatechism.com. I find that this Westminster Shorter Catechism Project site comes in very handy. Note the commentaries there by Fisher, Vincent, Flavel, and so on regarding WSC questions 91-95, for example, as they relate to some of your questions.

But anyway, as I said ... maybe going a little too much off-topic. I'll stop posting and think it over a bit ...

PS I define weird as: (1) baptism taking place in a bathtub (2) baptism resulting in totally immodest display (of the sort that you get when a church believing in immersion baptism also holds that women must wear loose-fitting skirts) (3) baptism performed by a child (4) baptism performed by a pastor who sexually abused the person who was baptized on a regular basis before and after the baptism (5) baptism in which the person baptized was kept standing in the water until they got the HG and spoke in tongues (6) baptism performed on someone who was old enough to object (not an infant baptism) but still done forcibly and over their objections. These are all situations that I have witnessed or people have written me about to inquire. (And actually my first baptism could be classified as #6. My hands had to be pried away from the sides of the baptistry so that I could be immersed).

:eek: I'll never look at the term "weird" the same way again.
 
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steven-nemes

Puritan Board Sophomore
PS I define weird as: (1) baptism taking place in a bathtub (2) baptism resulting in totally immodest display (of the sort that you get when a church believing in immersion baptism also holds that women must wear loose-fitting skirts) (3) baptism performed by a child (4) baptism performed by a pastor who sexually abused the person who was baptized on a regular basis before and after the baptism (5) baptism in which the person baptized was kept standing in the water until they got the HG and spoke in tongues (6) baptism performed on someone who was old enough to object (not an infant baptism) but still done forcibly and over their objections. These are all situations that I have witnessed or people have written me about to inquire. (And actually my first baptism could be classified as #6. My hands had to be pried away from the sides of the baptistry so that I could be immersed).


Wow... :|
 

William Price

Puritan Board Freshman
This is a great thread...

This Sunday, if possible, I shall be undergoing baptism at my home church. I was baptized in Jesus name (Oneness baptism) but since God has saved and done such a work in my heart, I wish, desire, and purely want to be baptized biblically.
 
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