WAIT JUST A MINUTE ... I'M CONFUSED!!
I think sumthin's messed up here!
I have been following ... from somewhat of a distance, admittedly ... and also from my Padded Cell, from which the view may be somewhat distorted and perhaps even unauthorized ... all the hoopla over at Wade Burleson's place, concerning Baptism and the Training Center in Hyderabad that's been Baptizing all those ladies from around the state. Which states, in India, have a lot of hugeness going for them. It seems Wade stirred up the proverbial nest of hornets by saying that the Baptisms there didn't seem to comply with the ubiquitous SBC view that all such things had to happen under the authority of a local church, in order to be valid. That got some interesting comments along the lines that they were, thank you, despite the fact that the ladies came from villages all over and some of them couldn't even tell their husbands they'd been Baptized, but it was nonetheless under the auspices of some local church where they were from. Like, how else could it be "local"?
Seems stretchy to me.
Wade, on the other hand, seems to have expressed the opinion that any member of the Body of Christ ... I think I've heard that's what the ekklesia is ... who leads someone to Jesus ought to be able to Baptize that person. Well, that didn't set well with a lot of folks who seem to hold an inflated view of local assemblies who cannot find half their members, etc etc.
NOW ALL THIS GOT ME TO THINKING: what're we trying to do here? Seems to me we probably ought to be about carrying out what the Scripture says we should be doing. And what that is, is the two-headed animal of (A) what it tells PEOPLE to do, and (B) what it tells the BODY to do.
They may be different.
First, when Peter preached that two minute doozy of a sermon on the day of Pentecost, the folks asked what they must do to be saved. In the first-ever instruction as to how to get yourself saved, ever heard by man under the current plan (salvation by faith in a risen and ascended Jesus), the people were told to repent and be baptized. So when we talk about Baptism, let's focus on the fact the people were told to BE baptized. If there were any caveats to that, I think Pete would have told them, don't you? In my mind, when someone believes and submits to Christian Baptism, they have fulfilled that command. Scripturally.
Do you hear that, IMB? (Don't guess I expect any changes, at that, though).
Second: the Disciples were told to " ... 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.... " (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV)
As I read Matthew, He said that to the eleven remaining disciples. So that begs the question: was that an instruction to each of them, or only to the body as a whole?
Which was it. Persons, or the crowd?
Let's say it was the 11. So they were the only ones who are to go. Add the instructions in Acts 1:8 that certain folks were to be His witness, starting there and spreading through the world, and THAT begs the question: is the command to be a witness ONLY for the apostles? Are we plebians in the pews off the hook for witnessing? Are we? Am I to ignore the command to tell others? To go to foreign fields?
Well, maybe I can't get off the hook that easily. Maybe God did intend that I should get the message that I'm to share the message. And frankly, I think that's the case. I think the command to go and tell is for me as a part of the invisible/universal church, not as a member of a local church.
The ladies came "from villages across the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh: Pathikomba, Konala, Koyyada, Suddapalli, Magaluru... I have to wonder if there was a local church in each of those places. If there was, it seems like they'd have been baptized and discipled there. And if there wasn't, then the evangelist would seem to have been fulfilling only half the great commission.
IF I have any responsibility for the spread of the gospel, that goes beyond taking my tithe to the storehouse, then how can I NOT have, also, the privilege of carrying out the other half of the command; namely to Baptize people?
I recall a lady telling me that believers SHOULD speak in tongues, in light of what Mark 16:17-18 says. I asked if she thought I should handle snakes or drink poison, and she said goodness, she didn't believe that. Well, I said, doesn't the same passage that talks about tongues talk about those things, too?
So, in the end, I'm left with the question. Which is it to be? Can I baptize, or can I forget about witnessing?