Recently Sean Christie of a discernment ministry, Revealing Truth did a hit video aimed at discrediting the Lutheran understanding of baptismal regeneration in response to a video on the topic by my fellow Confessional Lutherans, Steven Kozar and Daniel Long. His video can be found here:
The video he was responding to can be found here:
Sean made the claim at the 35:24 mark of the video (almost at the end) that those who support baptismal regeneration hold to those who believe and are not baptized will not be saved view of Mark 16:16. Complete strawman of not only what Confessional Lutherans affirm but what historic baptismal regenerationists affirmed as well the first 1500 years of church history.
This article will deal with this strawman concerning Mark 16:16.
Confessional Lutherans (as well as historic baptismal regenerationists) do not teach that those who lack a chance to be baptized are lost even if they have faith. Lutherans in regards to Mark 16:16 teach 1) baptism is a means of grace to save through faith 2) lack of chances to be baptized don’t damn, but only unbelief.
He knew that to be a false claim about us since he admitted at the 0:42-1:03 minute mark that in the prior edition of this video, he falsely assumed Lutherans hold to this and apologized for that. Yet, right near the end of the video, he repeat that false claim about our beliefs as if we hold to lack of chances to be baptized damns even believers? A claim he knew to be false? Sad.
What Confessional Lutherans affirm is that baptism is normatively necessary to salvation but not absolutely so.
How can that be?
To begin with, Confessional Lutherans affirm saving grace is absolutely needed to cause conversion out of fallen sinners who are otherwise bound by sin.
And we as Confessional Lutherans affirm God promises to use baptism as a means of this saving grace to give faith and rebirth.
To affirm God uses baptism as means of saving grace to give faith and rebirth isn’t the same as saying God always uses baptism as such.
God’s saving grace is absolutely necessary. A certain means such as baptism isn’t since we also affirm the word preached is just as effectual to give faith and rebirth. God isn’t limited to any given means, even Baptism where He attaches saving promises to, in order to give saving grace. He doesn’t limit or bound Himself.
The Augsburg Confession Article V put it this way:
“1 That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, 2 the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear 3 the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ’s sake, justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ’s sake.”
Note we affirm in this confession that God works when and where it pleases Him to give saving faith through Word and Sacrament. In other words, He isn’t limited to either Word or Sacrament to give saving faith.
Colossians 2:11-13 treats baptism as means God gives faith and rebirth:
11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.
Romans 10:14-15 speak of the word preached as means God gives faith and rebirth as well:
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
Nor does being saved prior to baptism in the cases of via word preached as means one is given faith makes baptism less saving afterwards.
Remember, Confessional Lutherans affirm saving faith continually receive Christ’s forgiveness and salvation in Word and Sacrament, always by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
Salvation isn’t a one shot deal in our view. We are being saved, not just were saved.
That accounts for Paul still having his sins washed away in baptism, through faith in Acts 22:16, despite already converting prior to baptism:
16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
The point is that Sean failed to actually interact with what we actually believe but claim to debunk our baptismal regeneration view ot Mark 16:16 by falsely claiming we hold to lack of a chance to be baptized damns even believers. In truth, he didn’t debunk anything but a strawman.
Let’s consider various Confessional Lutheran denomination statements:
“Jesus said, ‘Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned’ (Mark 16:16). It is faith that saves; it is unbelief—not the lack of baptism—that condemns.”
“The LCMS does not believe that Baptism is ABSOLUTELY necessary for salvation. All true believers in the Old Testament era were saved without baptism. Mark 16:16 implies that it is not the absence of Baptism that condemns a person but the absence of faith, and there are clearly other ways of coming to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit (reading or hearing the Word of God).”
Here we stand.