Matthew R. Perry

IMB releases position paper on baptism

In SBC on March 10, 2006 at 1:40 pm

Ben Stratton recently sent this out in his newsletter out concerning the IMB’s new view on baptism:

On Tuesday, March 7, the trustees of the Southern Baptist International Missions Board released “A Position Paper Concerning The IMB Guideline on Baptism”. This paper can be found here. It is a good article and explains why the IMB rejects missionary candidates who have not been baptized by doctrinally sound congregations (Baptist churches). I encourage each of you to read the article and tell others about it.

Also the trustees of the IMB have invited pastors and any interested Southern Baptists to e-mail their feedback to

What are your thoughts on the matter? I know that John Piper of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis has said that he does not feel this is a hill to die on and will receive members who have been sprinkled. I believe that being immersed is the biblical way because (1) Jesus did it that way (Mark 1:10) and (2) the word ‘baptism’ comes from the Greek baptizo which means to immerse or to dip. So I would have to agree with the IMB.

But what do you think?

  1. From the statement:
    “Baptism must take place in a church that (1)practices believer’s baptism by immersion alone, (2) does not view baptism as sacramental or regenerative, and (3) a church that embraces the doctrine of the security of the believer. ” [numbers inserted by me]

    1) I agree totally that believer’s baptism by immersion is the only form of biblical baptism. “Infant baptism” is not baptism. Sprinklingor pouring is not baptism. My disagreement comes when a evangelical church that does not do this in general (e.g. PCUSA) but did do so in the specific case of the IMB candidate.

    2) There is a lot of semantics that come into play here with “sacramental”. There are some evangelical churches that use “sacrament” for the ordinances that are much closer to the traditional Baptist position that say the Roman Catholic tradition. In such cases, I more specific investigation should be applied.

    3)As a 5-point Calvinistic Baptist, I am a firm believer in the doctrine of eternal security (I prefer the term perseverance of the saints). But I know plenty of Charismatics who disagree with ES whom I would consider to be biblically baptised. If an IMB candidate was coverted and baptised in an evangelical Charismatic church and is now a Southern Baptist, then I believe that they do not need to be rebaptised, for they have already been baptised.

    The policy should be that the candidate must have been baptised by immersion as a believer in an Evangelical congregation.

    I have the biggest problem with the policy is that in some cases it requires people who have been baptised (i.e. by immersion, as a believer, not as a requirement of salvation) to be rebaptised.

  2. That is not quite accurate, Bethlehem Baptist Church does not currently take paedobaptists into membership, and the elder board has tabled the proposal that would allow it to happen, for now. Also, I think you have joined two disparate topics; the IMB is zeroing in on whether candidates were baptized in churches that preach the eternal security of the believer. That seems to be the issue of controversy, and to me it smacks of the heresy known as donatism.

  3. To be clear, I did not intend to say Bethlehem Baptist Church would receive those who have received non-immersion baptism reviews. I noted that “John Piper of Bethlehem …” felt this way — I was dealing with the individual, not the church this individual pastors.

  4. The big change due to this policy is requiring the baptizing church to believe in eternal security. The IMB has always and will always require baptism by immersion. That was never the issue.

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