By Roland W. Keith
A wise man once said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” When my curiosity as to why there has been so much controversy over baptism throughout the history of Christianity led me into this project, I naively wondered why others had not already asked the same questions and addressed the same concerns that I had on the subject. After an exhaustive study, it has become clear that indeed every road is well travelled, and every obstacle has been removed so that the surrounding landscape is in full view.
Nonetheless, while most who claim Christianity find little to be concerned with regarding baptism, the controversy persists. Along this path, many with far superior scholarly pedigrees to mine have weighed in on this matter without resolving the issue, and yet it is my hope that the work within these pages will draw the attention of those who pick it up and compel them to examine this most important topic with fresh eyes and an open mind. This work is concerned with baptism and its relationship to our salvation. It is an attempt to understand the proper meaning and mode of baptism and its eternal value. You could say then that it is a word study. As such, we must ask a question of ourselves.
Are words important? You might say it depends on the word. Like many of our daily actions, we often pay little attention to words or their impact on our lives. On the other hand, the meaning of a single word, used in a particular context can make all the difference in the world. As mentioned, the focus of this book is dedicated to the study of one such word. A word that Jesus Himself placed at the center of the last command He gave to His disciples before He ascended from the earth. A word that can change your life and your eternal destiny. In a time when many within the community of believers ascribe little value or import to baptism it cannot be overemphasized that this attitude has not always been the prevailing one. Much has been written about baptism. It has been debated and argued over. It has been the subject of religious synods. And, sadly, it has been the cause of division and bloodshed, even to the point of death.
Given the fact that God has made His plan of salvation available to all men in written form with the admonition to “study to show your self approved unto God…” (II Tim. 2:15), and that this command was given to all Christians and not a select few it is difficult to believe that the inspired writers of the New Testament intended to apply any degree of difficulty to the understanding of the subject that challenged the common use of the language of the time, or was beyond the average person’s intellectual abilities.
It is true that all of us as Christians benefit from the guidance of good teachers, but it is up to us to duly compare their instruction to all scriptures related to a subject and determine what the inspired word is telling us. If we do a thorough examination, and ask the right questions, keeping an open mind, constantly praying for wisdom in the matter, God will reveal His truth to us. Why then, over two thousand years after the death of Messiah are there so many books devoted to explaining baptism— its meaning, modes, candidates, and place in Christendom? It appears that the difficulty needing so much explanation does not lie in the scriptures, but in the men and women who feel no need to seek agreement in the faith and hope that includes one baptism (Eph. 4:4-16). We live in an age where to agree to disagree is deemed unity. However, for the Christian this cannot be so.
Our oneness of mind is valid only as far as we are being true to the commands of God as set forth by His Son, Jesus Christ and His chosen vessels— the men selected to record the final testament between God and man in written form. I strongly encourage all who read this book, or any other non-inspired source of instruction about baptism, to do so with a degree of skepticism sufficient to compel you to do a thorough study of the subject on your own, with Bible in hand.
Roland W. Keith
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.