Sunday, February 08, 2009

Baptism on the Day of Pentecost, part 1

A couple of points of clarification.

First, when I say "immersion" as a mode of baptism, I'm meaning that the candidate's entire body is submerged under the water. In some confessions, this is done once (some Protestants) and in some, it's a three-fold immersion (the eastern and western Orthodox churches). But it's always a case of the entire body under the water.

Secondly, in discussing my assertion (that no recorded New Testament baptism was done by immersion), I'm not asserting anything about the economia of the church: the church can -- in her wisdom -- decree baptism by immersion only. This is not discussing that issue.

But today we're talking about the 3,000 baptisms that occurred on the day of Pentecost. And in my opinion, someone who argues that New Testament baptisms were by immersion is not dealing seriously with what went on that day.

Let's recap: on the day of Pentecost, some 40 days after Jesus' crucifixion, there were 3,000 new Christians who came to faith and were baptized there in the city of Jerusalem through the agency of the preaching of St. Peter. The conversions came some time after around 9 a.m. (Acts 2.15) and presumably the conversions and baptisms were completed prior to the "end" of the day, which they would have thought of as being about 6 p.m., in our reckoning.

Let's assume that each apostle baptized about the same number of individuals. This would have meant that each (there were 12 there, Acts 2.14) would have baptized around 250 individuals.

More tomorrow -- this is a tougher subject than most of us have considered.

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