Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Yes sireeee ... blame this wild thought on Peg.

See, I was sitting in the Target's parking lot in Alabaster, waiting for her to finish up some Christmas shopping and since I didn't have anything else to do, I spent some time thinking. About this baptism thing and just who's good enough to do that to everybody's satisfaction.

Like God's. And maybe some others.

The thought was generated by a couple of scriptures that popped into my mind. They are...

"Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV)


"He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."" (Acts 1:7-8, NIV)

OK .. now the point: He said HE had all authority in Heaven and on Earth. I think that's pretty much all of it. What He DID NOT say is that He gave THEM "all authority ... on earth", and since He's still alive, I'm betting HE still has it.

If He didn't give all authority on earth to the apostles, then neither they nor the "body" some people seem to think they represented (as opposed to themselves) have "all authority on earth" today. Hence, I'm assuming that we're all operating under Jesus' authority, yet today.

Is the SBC/IMB trying to tell us that Jesus is ONLY "with (us) always, to the very end of the age", through the "local church"? That seems to fly squarely in the face of the Priesthood of the Believer, and is perhaps one reason why some geniuses in the Ivory Towers decided to surreptitiously change that to "the priesthood of all Believers" in the 2000 BF&M.

Add the deal in Acts to that. Jesus said that some "you" would receive power when the Holy Ghost paid us that visit. Seems to me that is uniquely PEOPLE. I seriously doubt He indwells organizations, and besides, it's PEOPLE who do the work anyway. This seems oriented to telling ME that I'll receive power, ostensibly for the work I'm to do.

Could the conspiracy theorists (most of whom seem to know those Tower occupants a lot better than yours truly...) who are talking about so-called leaders trying to consolidate their power, be onto something?

Can I believe Jesus is "with me", today? Or is it a "local church" however you want to define that, that's with me? And if He is, doesn't HE still have all authority?

The command, of Jesus, to carry on the Great Commission ... if it applies to me .. necessarily carries with it the authority to actually DO that. And THAT authority can only come from Jesus, Who promised to be with us as we carried it out. And since He's still with us, I'm thinking HE still has "all authority in heaven and on earth". So, how can the local church tell me that I cannot have it?

NOW. The Great Commission is more than witnessing, praying and baptizing. It's also making disciples. So I cannot merely "love'em and leave'em" and think I'm fulfilling the last command Jesus gave us. I'm going to have to see to the discipleship part, too ... disciple, instruct, teach. But I have to ask whether that's been done, to the 50+% of "local church members" that we can't even find, by the organization that some folks are telling us has "all authority" to baptize.


I keep hearing that baptism is a local church ordinance. Where does it say that? I just looked at all the verses the BF&M uses to substantiate baptism, but none refer to it as a "church ordinance". It seems to me that, if that's what it is, it's the church that has said that.

Not the bible.

Now I have no quarrel with its being an ordinance, but I am simply not sure that the Bible instructs us that only "authorized representatives" of a narrowly-defined local church can do that.

I don't anticipate ever being in a position of leading someone to saving faith in Jesus, and then being asked to immediately baptize them, right then & there. So this is kind of tilting at windmills. But that does NOT change the fact that I see nothing scriptural to support the IMB/SBC position on baptism, and just who they'll recognize as "authorized" to administer it.

But what do I know? And, at my age, what do I care?

I believe the BF&M. 1963, really ... 2000, mostly ... and the Preamble, particularly.

And enthusiastically.


At 7:51 AM, December 13, 2007, Blogger Phil Hoover, Chicago said...

Great, great blog, brother!

You raise some very interesting issues.

At 8:04 AM, December 13, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Thanks, Phil.

At 8:38 AM, December 13, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been following your comments over at PW - they are always fun to read! So I hopped over here to see what was going on. And to my surprise a VERY thoughtful discussion on the SBC and baptism. And a mention of the Burleson family (my husband's cousins - it's complicated). All of that to say - glad I stopped by - enjoyed the thoughts.

AND - So happy to hear of your long marriage (your comment on PW). It's uncommon these days. My parents just passed the 43 year mark and my husband's are headed towards 49 (I think). Encouraging for those of us who will celebrate 13 next week!

At 9:44 AM, December 13, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Hi Mrs T. (or Mr St)

Well .. I am my own second step-cousin, once removed. Is the deal with your hubby more complicated than THAT?

Wade Burleson has gotten to be a good friend over the last 2 years, as has his wife and mom & dad, too. Fine, fine people.

Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate the kind words.

At 11:36 AM, December 14, 2007, Blogger Strider said...

They get the authority of the baptizer based on logical inferences. Logical inferences can get you in trouble however. My favorite passage on baptism is John 4 where it says that Jesus didn't baptize (he didn't qualify since he drank wine) but his disciples did. If you infer logically you could say that since the disciples baptized then Judas must have baptized..... and then where is your argument for the authority of the baptizer? Yeah, I thought so.

At 11:42 AM, December 14, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...


That is a REMARKABLE comment. Principally because you're the first person I can recall using the word infer, or inference, properly.


At 7:50 PM, December 19, 2007, Blogger ~CarolineNot said...

An excellent help meet you are, Peg, as evidenced by affording your husband the opportunity to sit in the parking lot, thinking. Keep up the good work. I always suspected shopping was underrated.

Heartwarming, encouraging post, Bob. Good meat.

But ye (which believe v.7) are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. ~I Peter 2:9


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