From the Viola/Barna book Pagan Christianity?, I have in the last two posts shared some rather negative appraisals of certain practices and philosophies. Below is a far more positive sampling of thoughts on immersion. One might pick a little with a few of the seemingly absolute statements; please simply realize that I have not shared all the context.
Although not without negative implications viz. certain habits in much of evangelical Christendom, these points are as salient as they are correct and affirming of one very biblical practice.
Evangelical Christians believe in and practice believer’s baptism as opposed to infant baptism. . . .
However, it is typical in most contemporary churches for baptism to be separated from conversion by great lengths of time. . . .
In the early church, converts were baptized immediately upon believing. . . .
In our day, the “sinner’s prayer” has replaced the role of water baptism as the initial confession of faith. Unbelievers are told, “Say this prayer after me, accept Jesus as your personal Savior, and you will be saved.” But nowhere in the New Testament do we find any person being led to the Lord by a sinner’s prayer. And there is not the faintest whisper in the Bible about a “personal” Savior. . . .
So when did baptism get separated from receiving Christ? It began in the early second century. Certain influential Christians taught that baptism must be preceded by a period of instruction, prayer, and fasting. This trend grew worse in the third century. . . .
As stated earlier, the sinner’s prayer eventually replaced the biblical role of water baptism. Though it is touted as gospel today, this prayer developed only recently. D.L. Moody was the first to employ it. . . . There is nothing particularly wrong with it. . . . However, it should not replace water baptism as the outward instrument for conversion-initiation. . . .
Through our tradition, we have evacuated the true meaning and power behind water baptism. Properly conceived and practiced, water baptism is the believer’s initial confession of faith before men, demons, angels, and God. Baptism is a visible sign that depicts our separation from the world, our death with Christ, the burial of our old man, the death of the old creation, and the washing of the Word of God.
Frank Viola, George Barna, Pagan Christianity?, 2002-2012, pp. 188-196
A brief post of my own on immersion may be found here. Its title is from the song referenced below.
I surely wish I could carry with me daily the perspectives and feelings of the words of the Kenny Chesney/Randy Travis song “Baptism,” whose lyrics may be found here.
B. Casey, 7/17/15