Today, the guys want to make an inroad to a topic that is surrounded by much confusion even among Christians: baptism! The confusion relates in part to the current trend of downplaying baptism. Not only does this indicate confusion about what baptism is, but it also causes the confusion to deepen and proliferate. The downplaying of baptism is rooted in a well-meaning course correction to theological errors that over-emphasized baptism, such as the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. But what Christians need at this point is not to over-correct their way into neglecting the rich truths surrounding baptism, but to construct a robust doctrine that values baptism while knowing how to respond to those who consider it necessary for salvation.
This notion of baptism being necessary for salvation is at the heart of the theological error the guys want to zero in on today, namely, that of baptism regeneration. Baptismal regeneration is one of a few major views of baptism that are commonly held, and it maintains that the act of baptism is sufficient in itself (by conferring or completing grace) to save the soul. The Roman Catholic Church holds to this view, whereas Lutherans hold that baptism is a sign and seal of the New Covenant and those in a Reformed or Covenantal camp see baptism as a culmination of faith – expressing faith, bringing believers under the care of the church, and functioning in a way analogous to a royal coronation that decares rather than creating the reality of kingship.
The guys have spent a lot of time discussing the doctrinal problems of baptismal regeneration not only with Roman Catholics, but also with members of the Church of Christ, who hold that baptism is necessary for salvation. This position, of course, has logical shortcomings; after all, what about those who are converted with no time or ability to be baptized? The position also contradicts the overall teaching of Scripture regarding both baptism and salvation, and the guys explain how to understand the true context of passages used in support of baptismal regeneration. Finally, they celebrate the beautiful whole-Bible threads of meaning that baptism picks up, baptism’s picture of the gospel, and the connection between baptism and the great commission!